Education Career Fair matches recruiters and aspiring teachers

Draken Thompson has a unique story to tell about falling in love with teaching.

It began with a torch, a helmet and a fire extinguisher.

Four years ago, Thompson had just obtained his welding certifications and had one semester left in his high school senior year. He had a gap in his final semester schedule, so he co-taught a class with his father, who was the welding instructor at his school.

“It was then that I realized I liked teaching better than actually welding,” Thompson confessed.

Now, having momentarily ditched the torch and safety helmet, and just weeks away from graduating from Radford University, the dapperly dressed senior education major from Floyd County was as at the university’s annual Education Career Fair, which was on Feb. 22, handing out resumes and seeking interviews for a position teaching history and government.

Sponsored by Radford University’s Center for Career and Talent Development in collaboration with the College of Education and Human Development, the annual career fair brings 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.

One hundred and seven teaching candidates attended the event. Representatives from 79 school districts came from all over Virginia, as well as a few from North Carolina and Washington, D.C. Many of the recruiters were looking for special education, math, English, Spanish and elementary school teachers.

Students spent the morning making the rounds and meeting recruiters, who were set up in booths in the main court inside the Student Recreation and Wellness Center. Many of the students scheduled job interviews for the morning and afternoon. Some were offered positions on the spot, like Hannah Jent, who earned her bachelor’s degree at Radford in 2018 and now is working on a master’s degree in special education.

“I’ve had a few people ask me if I can finish my classes online, so I can go ahead and start teaching,” the Franklin County native said.

The high demand for Radford University pre-service teachers is a testament to preparation students receive in the School of Teacher Education and Leadership (STEL).

“That is the reason we come to the fair,” said Sherry Doane ’96, an assistant principal at Orange County High School. “We know Radford’s education program is wonderful, and we know we’ll talk to a good pool of job candidates here.”

Jane Hall said her school district has been successful at the job fair, having hired teachers from Radford University in previous years. “And, they’ve been very good teachers,” said the Director of Pupil Personnel Services and Special Education at Bath County Public Schools.

Like all school district representatives, Hall had a list of criteria for interviewing and evaluating teaching candidates.

“I look at their presentation styles and how they come across in conversations,” Hall explained. “I ask about their teaching style. I want to know if they can make a positive impact with their students.”

Relationship-building was high on Doane’s list, too.

“If you can connect with your students, they are going to learn from you,” she said. “For us, everything is built around the relationship teachers have with their students, with their colleagues and the whole team.”

Second-year graduate student Alex Mullin learned about building those important relationships through her studies and experiences at Radford University, including research opportunities with the children she has instructed during her student teaching. She credits STEL faculty for teaching her the skills needed to be an effective and efficient teacher.

Faculty, she said, have prepared her “in every possible way.”

“The professors here at Radford are amazing and supportive” said Mullin, of Bristol. “I just love it here, I almost wish I wasn’t almost finished… except I need a job!”

Mar 20, 2019
Chad Osborne