OCEAN CITY, Md. - Schools across Delmarva are facing teacher shortages, but the focus is on Delaware where the amount of teaching vacancies is described as critical in certain areas. A teacher recruitment fair was held in Ocean City Saturday to help reverse this problem.
In Ocean City, over a dozen school districts from The First State, including Indian River, were looking to fill teacher shortages. A problem that we're told has only gotten worse in recent years.
"We struggle to get teachers because we are all competing for a smaller candidate pool," says Celeste Bunting, Indian River director of personnel.
That's the purpose of the teacher recruitment fair, now in its fourth year. Districts look to attract candidates from all over Delmarva to teach locally.
Officials say the 2017 event hosted about 125 candidates, 68 of which found teaching positions on the shore, with another 15 finding para-professional positions.
Despite the success, districts still struggle to keep up with the growing student population. Indian River School District says they need to add 90-120 new teachers each year to keep up with population growth.
What's more, a lack of teachers can lead to adverse effects for children's education.
"Sometimes there has to be larger class sizes, sometimes we have to put a substitute in a classroom if we don't have a certified teacher. Sometimes we have to our student teachers in classrooms while they student teach in order to cover the classrooms," said Bunting.
About 130 teaching candidates swarmed in to introduce themselves to potential employers on Saturday, including Rich and Colleen Lichtenwalner. A teaching couple moving back home to the eastern shore, attending the fair to find a new position.
"A couple of schools definitely are saying that their application process is very strict and they have like 100-some applicants, so it's very competitive, but there's also a lot of job opportunities too," says Rich.
"People were willing to give interviews and so people are definitely here to look for these prospective teachers," added Collen.
We're told this fair is only the beginning, described as the big kickoff of recruitment season for fall 2018 classrooms.
If you were not able to make it out to the teacher recruitment fair and think you have the qualifications needed to be a teacher in Delaware, we have information you may need.
You can log on to Join Delaware Schools, or to individual district websites to officially submit your application.
Districts say they are searching for teachers in specific content areas including math, science and Spanish.
It's recommended you call human resource departments to make yourself known to potential employers.
"Really great things for teachers like a pension system and great benefits, so we want to advertise that to people," says Kim Doherty with Brandywine School District. "Our salaries, certainly for a ten-month position, are great. There's a lot of things that are fantastic about teaching so we want to highlight that as a career for people. In case you haven't thought about it, we think you should."
Delaware also has a substitute teacher shortage, which could serve as another great way for aspiring teachers to get their foot in the door, or to just simply to see if education is truly the career for them.