ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque Public Schools has a new plan to get ahead of the teacher shortage by turning to students who are still in college.
At the beginning of the school year, APS said it was desperately trying to find teachers. The district was short nearly 200 teachers, so this upcoming year it wants to get ahead of the hiring peak.
“We’re being as progressive and innovative as possible,” APS Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, Antonio Gonzales, said. “We’re trying to anticipate early for the 2017-2018 school year.”
Starting this month, students who are expected to graduate in May, with their teaching degree can apply and interview. It’s the first time the district has tried this type of approach to fill positions. Students who are in the College of Education at UNM typically spend their final semester logging student-teaching hours that are required in order to graduate.
“We will only hire people who are qualified for our positions at Albuquerque Public Schools,” Gonzales said.
The district is looking to fill positions in four key areas: special education, bilingual education, math and science. APS said those are typically the toughest areas to fill because they require extra course work and additional training.
UNM students who are close to graduating were excited to hear the news.
“I mean the fact that they’re willing to reach out,” Travis Smith said. “To get the process rolling before graduating, very few companies do that.”
“That’s incredible,” Abigayle Goldstein said. “That’s the exact help I’ve been looking for. It’a a clear sense of direction and is totally something I would take advantage of.”
But Gonzales said it won’t be that easy. Students will have to follow strict guidelines their last semester and the contract can be terminated if students don’t follow through.
“The provisional contract will be outlined accordingly to benchmark every step that potential graduate would have to meet in terms of submitting documentation to the district as the semester unfolds,” Gonzales said.
That includes applying for licensure through the New Mexico Public Education Department.
APS hopes this plan will not only give them an edge over competing districts, but create an incentive for students.
“There’s a need here for teachers so why should I leave when I could stay home?” Goldstein said.
The district has a mentoring program for first year teachers. It’s a collaboration between APS and the teacher’s union.
“We want to make sure that every one of our brand new teachers is paired up with an experienced teacher to get them through the first year, from an operational and instructional point of view,” Gonzales said.
APS will start interviews at the end of this month all the way through May.