Education Career Fair puts students a step closer to teaching
Fourth graders buzzed with excitement when Ashley Scott guided them through a lesson about electricity last fall.
“Their minds were blown,” she said. “And it was the greatest thing I have ever seen.”
Scott, a senior education major, helped teach the lesson to a class at Belle Heth Elementary School.
“We had one day when the students made circuits and their goal was to get the light bulb to light up,” she explained. “The kids loved this because they got to make their own flow of electricity. It was a rewarding experience when I got to see how amazed they were.”
Scott knew for certain she wanted to be a teacher when she began working with school children. “I love seeing them grow, and I like being one of the teachers who teaches them something they think is really cool,” she said.
The Winchester native, who is scheduled to graduate in May, was among the 164 students who attended Radford University’s Education Career Fair March 17. They had an opportunity to meet with representatives from 73 school districts from across Virginia – there were a few from North Carolina, Tennessee and one from Alaska – to pitch their skills and knowledge in hopes of landing a teaching position.
International Educator Placement of America and Southern Teachers Agency also had representatives at the fair.
Sponsored by Radford University Career Services, the annual event brought the representatives to campus to meet and network with Radford students, alumni and other professionals who are interested in working in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade educational settings.
Dressed in business attire and equipped with resumes and smiles, students spent the morning making the rounds to numerous booths set up in the gym. Many scheduled one-on-one interviews with school representatives for later that day.
And in some cases, more.
“We’re making job offers today to top candidates,” said Karen Sporakowski, an assistant director of human resources at Roanoke City Public Schools.
About 60 minutes into the fair, Lindsay Wheeler already had three interviews scheduled for the afternoon. “It’s going well,” said the graduate student from Madison, who is earning a master’s degree in special education and wants to teach at the elementary level.
So does Sarah Stevens, a senior form Richmond, who soon will be certified to teach grades K-6. “This is what I absolutely love to do, and I want to do it for the rest of my life,” she said. “I like making an impact on the kids, and I like seeing them grow and learn.”
Stevens’ passion fits the mold for a good teaching candidate, said Carleen Puglisi of Frederick County Public Schools. “We are looking for talented young people who are interested in helping other young people learn,” she said. “We are looking for those special individuals who have that unique talent to teach.”
Michael Smith didn’t mind going the extra mile to recruit talented teachers. He traveled from Bethel, Alaska to recruit teachers for the Lower Kuskokwim School District, where he is a principal.
Smith said his school district fills between 40 and 60 teaching positions annually, including one Radford University graduate last year.
“He has been very positive about his experience teaching in our district,” Smith said. “This year we had several teaching candidates who wanted to interview based on their communication with him. We will be back again next year.”
Annie Whitaker ’99, M.S. ’03 and ’06 is the director of human resources at Montgomery County Public Schools. She said Radford University teaching candidates are well-prepared and gain diverse experiences through a variety of learning experiences.
“They really learn here at Radford what to do when they get into a classroom,” Whitaker said. “That’s what we’re looking for: people who know what they’re talking about and who are able to provide differentiated instruction for all kids.
“That’s the reason we come to the Education Career Fair. We’re here to get the best and the brightest before anybody else.”