Recruiting in Rural Schools

One year, a new Technology teacher taught for a week in September. Over the first weekend, he called the school to say that his grade book was on his desk, he was not returning.

More than a few times, a teacher who was supposed to start in September decided to teach somewhere late August.

One year I was asked to teach Spanish (I'm an ELA teacher by the way).

At one point, my sophomores had had five Spanish teachers in three years. Five.

Foreign Language teachers are among the hardest to staff and keep. There are just so few around and are in such demand, they can have their pick of assignments.  Why should or would a teacher "fresh out of grad school" settle on any backwater district?

Here's a story from the other end of the country about staffing advanced science teachers.  Up here, about an hour away is a major university and the State capital- there is no shortage of well-paying civil service jobs, especially for scientists and lab rats.  Why deal with the high school classroom and public education salary schedule when there is that option?

The New York State School Board Association conducts an annual survey of teacher contracts. The average starting salary for teacher with a Master's is $45,876. The low (read upstate, rural) is $30,676. The high (read downstate, suburban) this year was $64, 319. That's an amazing starting salary to me. I have 11 years in; I would have to work another three or four to come close to $64,000. I might be going on 40 years old and making what some 24-year-old is making!

So what's the answer to recruiting in rural schools? Sell the benefits.  I have smaller classes making it easier to innovate and root out individual issues.  I have less administration looking over my shoulder giving me true academic freedom.  I teach in a community where the school is the center piece.  The town really puts great energy into all things school.  And the view can be incredible- my drive to school passes three lakes in the state forest preserve; I can literally swim, fish or kayak from the front parking lot or be at a trail head in minutes to bike or hike.

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