Public schools seeking 20 teachers

Published 1:04 am Monday, April 21, 2008

NATCHEZ — As the school year nears an end for local students, administrators in the Natchez-Adams School District are already looking for a new crop of teachers.

John Sullivan, the district’s human resources manager, said the newest applicants show promise.

“We’ve been pleased with what we have seen so far,” he said.

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Sullivan said the district will be hiring 20 new teachers for the upcoming school year.

Sullivan said the vacancies were created by teachers whose contracts would not be renewed for the coming year.

And recent recruiting expeditions to area universities have yielded more applicants than job openings.

District Superintendent Anthony Morris said it was somewhat unusual for the district to have so many applicants.

In the past weeks Sullivan has gone to Mississippi State University, Alcorn State University, and a handful of other schools all in search of new teachers.

Sullivan’s timing in combing through resumes was a calculated maneuver.

“We want to be able to start interviewing early, “ he said.

Sullivan said early interviews allow administrators to have more time to review applicants, resulting in better hires.

Interviews for new applicants could begin as early as the last week in April or the first week of June, Sullivan said.

April 15, was the deadline for school districts statewide to notify teachers whose contracts would not be renewed.

Sullivan said in Adams County 20 teachers received such notification.

Of those 20, 19 had one-year teaching contracts with the district.

Only one of the 20 was on a five-year contract.

Sullivan said statewide districts employ approximately 2,000 teachers with one-year contracts.

The one-year contracts are meant as a way for non-certified teachers to work while they attain certification.

Sullivan said for a variety of reasons most of the 19, had not met the requirements to become fully certified.

But hopefully one-year contract extensions and renewals should not be a problem for the coming school year.

Sullivan said the applicant pool he plans to interview will already be certified and eligible for five-year contracts.

“They’ll be ready to go,” he said.

In addition, Sullivan said a shortage of teachers across Mississippi will not negatively impact Natchez.

“Natchez has a lot to offer,” he said. “It’s a good place to live.”

Sullivan said rural counties across the state often have difficulty recruiting new teachers because of a lack of social activities and available housing in the areas.

Conversely larger areas also have difficulties hiring new teachers because they simply have a need for too many and cannot find enough teachers.

Natchez rests between the two areas to its own benefit Sullivan said.

Morris said ideal candidates for the district will be able to meet the needs of a diverse range of students.

Morris said that diversity includes individual learning ability and socioeconomic background.

But most importantly he said, “They must have a commitment to young people.”