Students connect with local schools at inaugural education career fair
Story and photos by Cooper Nelson
GCU News Bureau
Grand Canyon University hosted nearly 50 K-12 school districts across Arizona on Wednesday for the inaugural Lopes Leap to Teach career fair, a networking event for current students and alumni to find jobs at local schools.
The career fair is part of a new education initiative announced by the University in October to address the state’s shortage of high-quality teachers by bringing together undergraduate and graduate students needing to complete practicum hours in classrooms with school districts. It also was designed to link College of Education graduates with local schools to fill teaching vacancies. According to an October survey by the Arizona Association of School Administrators and job postings listed on the Arizona Education Employment Board, there were more than 500 open teaching positions statewide.
Public, private and charter schools from Gilbert to Chandler and Glendale to Maricopa were represented. Two future career fairs will be held in March and April to bring together May graduates and school officials for positions available in the 2015-16 academic year.
Tom Beckett, director of human resources for the Maricopa Unified School District, which was represented at the fair, said it has a handful of vacancies. The event was a good launching point to familiarize GCU students with local teaching opportunities, Beckett said.
“A lot of the schools here today want the GCU community to know that we have openings and are always looking for quality teachers at our schools,” he said. “The need for quality educators in Arizona is so much greater than what is available at this time, so we want to be out here and be available to students.
GCU students were able to meet with school district superintendents, principals and human resources managers, obtain information on current job openings and hand out resumés and portfolios. Students graduating at winter commencement on Dec. 12 can begin teaching as soon as January when schools return from Christmas break, while those still in school can begin their student-teaching practicum hours next semester.
Kory Green, who is working on a bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education, was a special education behavioral specialist in the Deer Valley Unified School District for the past two years. He decided to pursue an online degree at GCU to fulfill his dream of becoming a teacher.
The 28-year-old senior held various positions at K-12 schools in Arizona and his native Minnesota for nearly eight years, but he attended Wednesday’s career fair to network with local schools. He said the Lopes Leap to Teach career fair is attractive to students looking for jobs immediately after graduation.
“I love that GCU is helping try to overcome the shortage. A lot of students may not know how to contact a school district to find a job and this will definitely help,” Green said.
“I love kids and want to teach, and I think there are a lot of passionate people out there who just need to be connected with the right job.”
Nearly 170 COE students will graduate at the December and May 2015 commencement ceremonies. GCU hopes a majority of these students will have job offers then.
Britt Chandler, GCU’s associate vice president in the College of Education, said the inaugural career fair was a success and believes future events will help combat the teacher shortage.
“The whole purpose behind the Lopes Leap to Teach program is trying to overcome the teacher shortage and get our students jobs,” Chandler said.
“Most districts have somewhere between 10 to 15 teacher vacancies, so there is a big need and we’re here to introduce students to these schools and help fill those positions. Hopefully we can make an impact soon.”
To learn more about Lopes Leap to Teach and to read the policy paper authored by Dr. Gerald Tirozzi, a visiting professor at GCU, that sparked the program, click here.
Contact Cooper Nelson at 602-639-7511 or [email protected].