Aspiring teachers wooed at expo — even to Alaska

November 17, 2021 / by / 0 Comment

Mark Vingoe of the Matanuska-Susitna School District in Alaska refers to a map of the state as he speaks with a student during the Lopes Leap To Teach & Lead career expo on Tuesday.

Story by Mike Kilen
Photos by Ralph Freso

GCU News Bureau

The career expo for Grand Canyon University education students is no secret to school districts in Arizona. There’s a shortage of teachers in the state, and GCU has a reputation for good ones soon ready to lead classrooms, prompting more than 50 school districts and schools to attend the Lopes Leap to Teach & Lead event Tuesday on the Promenade.

But it was unusual to see an Alaska map spread out on one table.

Students visit with representatives from more than 50 schools during Tuesday’s career expo.

Mark Vingoe of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District, near Anchorage, was enticing future graduates with the promise of adventure and higher wages in Alaska.

“We had heard of GCU but thought it was mainly online,” Vingoe said. “So when I talked to the college and learned there were nearly 24,000 students on campus, I came here and was amazed at how beautiful it is.”

He said Alaska’s situation is similar to many U.S. states. The district is short on teachers. He once was a teacher and principal there but is helping the district recruit from his retirement base in Tucson.

“COVID cut into the number of applications, and teachers elsewhere wanted to stay put during the pandemic,” he said, adding that the number of students wanting to go into education appears to be waning because many think the wages are too low. “I think the government has to incentive going into teaching.”

But there was plenty of enthusiasm for teaching on the Promenade as students went from table to table with eager school district reps handing out candy and business cards.

“There is a huge demand. On a weekly basis we are getting contacted by principals to connect with our students,” said Julianne Brett, Director of Clinical Practice for the College of Education, which joined with Strategic Employer Initiatives and Internships (SEI) to put on the event. “This is a prime opportunity to do so.”

Aspiring teachers warm up their smiles while meeting with recruiters Tuesday.

It’s one of the largest career fairs that SEI helps put on for the colleges at GCU, said Aysha Bell, SEI’s Director of Recruitment Services. It helps students not only connect with jobs but also internships and practicums.

Sophomore Taylynn Low was looking for practicum and internship opportunities and held a bulging folder filled with information from several schools.

“It’s a huge opportunity for education students. I’m supposed to be in class, but I got out of it to come to this,” said Low, an elementary education major who is eager to get in front of a classroom.

“I love teaching. I love kids,” she said.

Her folder held information mostly from nearby schools.

After all, the high temperature in Anchorage on Tuesday was 4 below, an 85-degree difference from the Promenade.

Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.


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