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Teachers, schools seek match at CMSD job fair


Dozens of teachers moved from table to table in the Lincoln-West High School gymnasium on Monday, trying to make a good impression and find a match for the upcoming school year.

CMSD held a job fair for about 150 District teachers who have been squeezed out of their schools by declining enrollment, along with a like number of promising outsiders who might fill high-need positions in areas such as special education, bilingual instruction, math and science. The event was also open to CMSD teachers who are simply contemplating a change.

The District has 175 vacancies, but the number could rise as high as 250 as teachers retire or leave for other reasons, said Lora Cover, chief talent officer. Besides the fair, CMSD is recruiting nationwide with its Teach Cleveland campaign.

On Monday, principals and teams from almost all of the District’s 90 schools received hopefuls who had a chance of winning favor -- though not an official commitment -- on the spot or being invited to follow-up interviews.

Initial conversations with some schools were as short as 15 minutes, but other schools went into more depth, so it wasn't the equivalent of speed dating. For the second year in a row, a more flexible union contract will permit selections based on who fits best, not who holds the most seniority.

“Having the right person in the right building is the most important factor in raising student achievement,” Cover said.
Tables for new schools were popular destinations.

Applicants stood up to seven deep to interview for Bard High School Early College Cleveland, a partnership with Bard College of New York that will let students earn both a high school diploma and associate degree in four years.

The table for E3agle Academy (Envision, Engage and Excel) and PACT (Problem-based Academy of Critical Thinking) was another busy stop. The new small schools will share John F. Kennedy High School after ninth-graders spend one year at another site to establish a culture.

“Are you looking for a math teacher?” one prospect asked PACT Principal Rick Reynolds.

“I am looking for a math teacher,” Reynolds replied. “Tell me a little bit about yourself.”

The District’s 10 newly designated Investment Schools will, on average, replace about half their staffs, Cover said. Teachers already at the buildings had to reinterview for positions or agree to new working conditions at the schools, which are among CMSD’s lowest performers.

One of the new Investment Schools, East Tech High School, kept about 80 percent of staff members who elected to return but needs to fill 21 of 50 jobs.

Paul Hoover, one of two principals at East Tech, said that all 10 of the interviewers’ half-hour time slots were taken Monday and that 15 or 16 other candidates would be interviewed at the school.
Hoover said he was seeking knowledge of content but also wanted a sense of enthusiasm about “doing the work” and helping students make gains. He doubts that teachers who lack that spirit can be effective.

“Students pick up on that pretty fast,” he said. “You need to have passion and expertise.”

Cover said hiring decisions will be made quickly, allowing schools to be prepared well before classes begin.

“We are going to lock down a whole bunch of positions by Thursday or Friday,” she said.