Hundreds of future teachers attend Fresno job fair

FRESNO, California

"Stressful experience," said Fresno State student Shana Duke. "This is my first time interviewing in this kind of situation and it's not what I expected, but at the same time it's a fantastic experience. I'm terrified and loving it all at the same time."

The recruitment fair attracted current students, prospective interns and graduates of California State University Fresno.

"Social Sciences is tough right now, but you have to just get out there and apply," said Garret Suarez.

Suarez said he doesn't graduate for another month, but that the job hunt is already starting to wear on him.

"It's pretty nerve racking. It's a little bit of a jungle going back and forth, but you've got to do what you've got to do to get a job," he said.

He was one of about 450 students who registered for Fresno State's 19th Annual Teacher Recruitment Fair. The fair brought school districts from all over California to the New Exhibit Hall.

"It's going really well," said Duke. "I've talked with quite a few people. Actually, I brought 10 resume packets and I'm going to run out of them."

Forty school districts from as far away as Ukiah, Arroyo Grande and San Jose looked to hire credentialed candidates, as well as local school districts including Fresno, Central, Clovis and Sanger Unified. That's up from 35 the year before, but still half of what it was about a decade ago.

"Probably a few in the shortage areas of Math, Science and Special Ed will walk away with contracts today," said Fresno State Recruitment Coordinator Diana Dille. "The districts are very eager to line them up and to know they have a person to fill those slots."

Others like Garrett Suarez may have to wait for a call back, but he said he has a few tricks up his sleeve to make himself more marketable.

"I coach varsity baseball (at Kingsburg High) where I'm student teaching," he said. "As a teacher you have to do more than just teach, you have to be well-rounded with other co-curricular activities so I'm trying to polish my resume with that. It's a good way to connect with the students as well. The students see you in a different light outside of the classroom and they respect you more."

He also said he'd like to stay close to home, but is willing to move to just about anywhere to get some experience under his belt.

I grew up in the country, I grew up in Caruthers so I like the demographics, the community and I think they're sometimes neglected," said Suarez. "I connect with the students a lot more and I feel I could do best there... but sometimes you have to do that. Get out of the valley and get a job where you can."

Unfortunately, none of the candidates Action News talked with landed a job right there on the spot, but some remained optimistic they'd get a call back.

In the meantime, school districts said they expect to hire more teachers in the next few years as the economy makes a rebound and the California state budget improves.

"California is predicting a huge teacher shortage," said Dille. "In the next ten years, it'll need 200,000 new teachers. If every university that has an education program turned out the same number of teachers they always have been, or exceeded that, they would not be able to meet the need."

Dille said she expects school districts to start hiring a larger number of applicants in the next two years.

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