Skip to main content

Districts Find Quality Prospects at Teacher Job Fair

Last Updated on December 12, 2017 at 12:00 PM

Originally published December 12, 2017

By University Communications

UTEP Communications

Isabel Amezaga had never been to a job fair before because she did not think she was ready. The fall 2017 Teacher Job Fair at The University of Texas at El Paso would be different.

Teacher Isabel Amezaga stands in the middle of her classroom.
Isabel Amezaga, a UTEP senior interdisciplinary studies major, will graduate on Dec. 16, 2017. She was hired at the November 2017 Teacher Job Fair, and already has started teaching a fourth grade class at Tom Lea Elementary School in Northeast El Paso.

The senior interdisciplinary studies major decided to join the more than 220 students, recent graduates and individuals with teaching certificates on Nov. 16, 2017, at the Don Haskins Center because she was ready.

Amezaga had experienced student teaching, had passed her state certification exam, and was poised to graduate during UTEP’s Winter Commencement Dec. 16, 2017. The El Paso native had attended a workshop that included a K-12 principals’ panel discussion, and gone through mock interviews. She was ready, but understandably nervous. She did not need to be.

The first-generation college student excelled during her student teaching at Tom Lea Elementary School in Northeast El Paso. The El Paso Independent School District interviewed her at the job fair, and hired her. Her first day at work was Dec. 4, 2017, at Tom Lea.

“I have mixed feelings,” Amezaga said a few days before her first official day as a teacher. The school’s principal asked her to work the last few weeks of the fall semester to ensure a smooth transition that will help her and her students. “I am excited, thrilled, but nervous. I can’t wait to teach in my own classroom.”

Amezaga was among the approximately 35 students who were hired by some of the 38 school districts and education organizations from Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, Arizona and Colorado. These entities were in search of teachers for all grade levels and disciplines.

Joyce Asing-Cashman, Ph.D., coordinator for student teaching and one of the key job fair organizers, said UTEP education graduates have many qualities these districts want. She said recruiters have told her that they look for bilingualism, adaptability, versatility, preparedness, and a foundation in knowing how to teach.

“District representatives have told me that our graduates demonstrate passion,” Asing-Cashman said. “Their student-centered teaching approach leads to engaging classroom environments.”

Brian Duguid, coordinator for recruiting and retention with the Glendale Elementary School District, said his district has sent representatives to UTEP twice a year for about eight years because it is impressed with the quality of the University’s education students.

He said his district, located northwest of Phoenix, Arizona, serves about 12,500 students in grades Pre-K-8. He said many of the UTEP students he meets have experience teaching residents from lower-income families, which make up a good percentage of his district’s student population.

Duguid said his district has at least a dozen UTEP College of Education graduates among its teaching ranks, and he made offers to another six during the recent teacher job fair. He called the students well groomed, well spoken and well mannered.

“The (UTEP students) I speak with are of high character,” Duguid said. “They have been well trained.”

William Robertson, Ph.D., interim dean of the College of Education, said agencies are eager to participate in the UTEP Teacher Job Fair because its pre-service students are ready to teach. He said 97 percent of the students complete the program, pass state exams and achieve teacher certification. That number is significant because the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that there will be nearly 1.9 million job openings for teachers from preschool through post-secondary school through 2024.

Robertson said students in the college’s Department of Teacher Education come with extensive field experience, content knowledge and pedagogical training. They also possess additional assets that enhance their marketability, such as being bilingual.

“The College of Education works in partnership with local school districts and the surrounding El Paso community to prepare dedicated, innovative teachers who will address the needs of the communities they will ultimately serve,” he said.

 The college’s next teacher job fair will be April 20, 2018.