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Arizona Department of Education hosts job fair to address teacher shortage

The Arizona Department of Education hopes that today's job fair at the Renaissance Phoenix Hotel in Glendale will help fill a good portion of those positions.
Published: Feb. 26, 2022 at 9:29 PM MST
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GLENDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Arizona is in the thick of a massive teacher shortage. According to a recent Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association survey, vacancies are currently in the thousands.

The Arizona Department of Education hopes that today’s job fair at the Renaissance Phoenix Hotel in Glendale will help fill a good portion of those positions.

“I’m looking for career advancement today,” teacher Jonathan Schmadeke said.

Schmadeke has been a teacher for 22 years, and he’s seen the ups, the downs, and everything in between when it comes to Arizona schools. Through it all, he’s still committed to education, but he wants a slight change of scenery.

“Looking to do something outside of the classroom, there’s a lot of administrative roles,” he said. “That’s kind of my goal today.”

More than 130 public school districts made their pitch to a registered group of over 1,000 attendees at today’s event.

“We love the opportunity to interview and to meet people face to face this year,” John S. McCain III Elementary School principal Dina Cegelka said. “Because we’ve been online for so long, it’s really nice to get that energy back.”

In addition to on-the-spot interviews, the Department of Education representatives helped people navigate the teacher certification process.

“Many of our schools are reliant on long-term substitute teachers meaning they have not gone through a teacher-prep program,” Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said. “They’re not fully certified as a teacher, but our schools rely on long-term subs because they simply cannot fill the positions with certified teachers.”

Hoffman says one way the state is trying to attract teachers is by paying tuition for anyone pursuing an undergraduate or graduate teaching degree, as long as they commit to teaching in Arizona Public Schools afterward.

Actions like this have middle school teacher Manleen Sahi hopeful that better times lie ahead despite the current teacher shortage.

“I really want to continue my job here as a teacher,” Sahi said. “I like the environment, and I like the different professional development opportunities I get from my district.”

If you’d like to learn more about becoming a certified teacher, you can visit the Arizona Department of Education’s website.