Fresno Unified getting creative in order to fill hundreds of teaching positions

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno Unified School District is looking to fill roughly 350 teaching positions for the upcoming school year, all while many California schools battle a teacher shortage.

The district is trying to get creative when it comes to growing its own teachers. Fresno Unified is proud of its Teacher Residency program. It helps the district recruit, train and then retain qualified teachers in the midst of a several year-long teacher shortage. Wendy Salas, Homan Elementary School, says "Most definitely retaining good teachers is one of the greatest aspects of the teacher residency program."

Emmelin Herrera, a new teacher who went through the Teacher Residency program, says "Once we completed the program we knew where we were going to be placed." She's now a full-time sixth-grade teacher at Homan Elementary School.

The program is one of several methods used by Fresno Unified to fill more than 300 open teaching positions. Cyndy Quintana, Fresno Unified School District, "We got a $7.8 million grant last year for a teacher residency program that's really helped. So, internally we're growing our own candidates which has helped tremendously."

Fresno Unified is even having to look outside of the Central Valley and California to find teachers. Next week, district officials will head to Mexico to hire dual immersion teachers. Later this month, they'll be heading to New York, Louisiana, and Michigan where there is actually a teacher surplus. Quintana says, "For example...Syracuse University is having a job fair in the next few weeks. They have 600 teachers coming to that job fair."

Fresno Unified has also been producing recruitment videos to help them. Quintana is going to Mexico City for the first time next week. Math, science, and special education positions have always been hard to fill but this year, administrators are seeing a need for more bilingual teachers to help them expand dual immersion programs and teach AP Spanish. Quintana says, "We're pretty excited about that and we hope it'll be a successful trip." Another strategy is to hire teachers before any of the area's teacher job fairs. Fresno Unified already started giving out early offers to next year's teachers in December.
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