More than 300 education professionals attended the 2nd annual Teach901 job fair at Central BBQ in downtown Memphis on Tuesday evening.
Organizers of the event said the turnout exceeded their goals.
“We definitely have a bigger crowd and tons of people who walked in after registration,” said Michael Phillips,who is the media coordinator for Teach 901. Phillips said the organization plans to track how many teachers were able to secure a position with one of the education vendors.
“We’re hoping that every operator gets to fill positions,” he said. “Education has become such a focal point in Memphis and there are many people looking for work. Teach901 wants teachers to know that we value them.”
Twenty-six education vendors representing public, charter and religious school options participated in the job fair in the hopes they would find the ‘right fit’ for their schools.
Soulsville Charter School is looking to hire five teachers before the end of the current school year. The school’s executive director NeShante Brown said attending the job fair was time well spent.
“We think we definitely found some potential hires,” Brown said.
Soulsville is a tuition-free public charter school operated under the Soulsville Foundation. It currently has 600 students in the sixth through 12th grades.
Michael Whaley, founder of Memphis College Prep, said he’s looking to hire five to seven teachers. The kindergarten through third grade school is in its fourth year and will add the fourth grade in the next academic year. The school has approximately 220 students.
“They have to (have) grit, capacity and presence,” Whaley said as he described the characteristics of the teachers he’s looking to hire.
Teacher candidates at Memphis College Prep go through a multi-level interview process before they are selected.
“We ask our candidates to watch a video lesson and analyze it, model a lesson and role play. We go through a lot in the interview process because we’re looking for the right fit,” he said.
Job fair attendees had various educational backgrounds – from student teacher Jon Gutknecht, who is weeks away from graduating from the University of Memphis to Tracy Haynes, an 11-year veteran looking to switch from a charter school to Shelby County Schools.
“I want to see what’s out there and hear what charter schools have to offer,” Gutknecht said. “I’m doing my research.”
Gutknecht is hoping to secure a job teaching science. He added that his choice won’t be determined by salary alone.
“I’m young and single,” he said. “I know the salary range isn’t that high, but what I’m looking to go wherever I can make the most impact.”