Principals Look for Prospects Annual Fair a Marketplace for Educators RECRUITING TEACHERS

Article excerpt

For James Young, six was the magic number.

As principal of Pine Estates Elementary school, Young attended yesterday's teacher recruiting fair searching for two teachers for fifth grade, two for special education and one each for third and fourth grades.

Positioning himself at a table surrounded by nearly 100 other elementary school principals -- all searching for the best candidates -- Young hoped to find the right teachers for the school.

More than 300 teaching candidates attended the annual recruiting fair. All those participating previously had submitted resumes to the school system and were invited to attend the event.

Many schools will need to continue with their hiring after the fair, but yesterday was the best opportunity to screen applicants.

Young needed strong teachers who can increase student performance. The school received an F from the state last year because of low students scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT).

The principal also needed teachers ready to try new programs. Next year, Pine Estates will become an America's Choice school. The program has clear-cut standards all children must reach, including being fluent readers by the end of third grade.

"You could say I'm looking for a lot," Young said to candidate Sheila Shepherd. "You have to have an ability to teach to students of different ethnic and economic backgrounds. I don't mind someone who needs to grow; that is what professional development is for. But you must be ready for a challenge."

Principals are allotted only 15 minutes to interview each candidate, but Young could tell in two minutes if he wanted to hire the person.

Shepherd nodded her head in agreement as Young spoke.

"It sounds like you are doing some great things," Shepherd said. "I am really interested in the third-grade position."

Young smiled but remained hesitant. He was unsure if she would be comfortable with America's Choice. He wrote down Shepherd's name and thanked her for stopping by.

But Young found a strong candidate in Jeffrey Haimowitz, a substitute teacher who has worked at San Mateo Elementary.

Haimowitz answered basic questions. What is your teaching style? …