Joel Brandon of Reedley has been looking for a teaching job since he was laid off two years ago. "I think last year I had around 70 applications out and there was like seven interviews. And I didn't get a job," said Brandon. But that hasn't stopped him from following his passion to teach others.
On Tuesday, Brandon joined hundreds of other applicants at a teacher job fair in Hanford. "We have seen a lot of applicants. We do know they have been laid off in many cases," said Alfonso Gamino with the Tulare Joint Union High School District. A half dozen districts from Kings and Tulare Counties were on hand looking for credentialed teachers to fill more than 40 positions for the upcoming school year. Many of the participating districts have not been severely impacted by state budget cuts and have the resources to hire on more staff.
"Our board has been very conservative in the way we look at our budgets. Our districts are expected to have a 3 percent reserve. Right now we have over 30 to 35 percent in reserve in our district which is more than 10 times the minimum," said Gamino.
And that is good news for those who've been out of the classroom for a while. "I'm giving it my all today. This is probably my last effort looking for a full-time teaching position. Otherwise I'm going back to school in the fall," said Vanessa Stannett, a substitute teacher from Visalia.
Other applicants are just starting out their teaching careers. "I'm subbing right now. I haven't been in the classroom yet so I'm new and ready to go," said Kawana Grinnage of Bakersfield.
Eager educators hoping for a job where they can make a difference in young lives. "I like working with little people. Having those 'oh, wow' moments. 'Is that's what I was supposed to be doing, that's what you were trying to show me?' It's exciting to see those kids get it," said Brandon.