County Schools Go On The Offensive In Luring 'The Best And The Brightest'

May 26, 1991|By Greg Tasker

Teachers don't appear in Carroll County's classrooms by accident.

Neither do they just show up at the Board of Education office in Westminster one day, looking for a job.

They are recruited.

Carroll, like other Maryland school districts, travels to universities and colleges throughout the state and mid-Atlantic region each year to recruit prospective teachers for vacancies and new positions.

"We're competing for the best students," said William R. Rooney, Carroll's director of personnel. "We're recruiting. We're screening candidates to bring the best we can to the classroom."

Carroll usually hires about 100 teachers each year for elementary and secondary levels and in subject areas ranging from socialstudies to physics and chemistry.

"We expect we will hire somewhere in that neighborhood this year," Rooney said.

In contrast, the Baltimore County school system, much larger than Carroll's, plans to hire about 450 teachers for the 1991-1992 school year. Howard County,still wrestling with a budget crunch, hopes to hire 200 teachers, said Albert W. Tucci, Howard's supervisor of human resources.

Typically, Carroll recruiters visit 50 colleges and universities, many of which sponsor teacher job fairs, attracting school districts from across the state and elsewhere. Carroll recruiters visit every college inMaryland.

Carroll and other Maryland school systems follow the national pattern in recruiting teachers, said Charles W. Marshall, executive director of the Association for School, College and University Staffing Placement, an Illinois-based agency that helps in teacher recruitment.

School systems recruit teachers from surrounding states, knowing that most graduates who attend college within 300 to 500 miles from home want jobs close to where they grew up, Marshall said.

"Schools in the mid-Atlantic may travel to New England, Ohio and into some of the southern states to look for teachers," Marshall said.

Recruiting fairs have been organized in this region by the colleges and the Mid-Atlantic Association for School, College and UniversityStaffing Placement, a regional branch of the national group.

Recruiting allows school districts to be more selective in choosing applicants, Rooney said. Before the district's recruiting program began, Carroll had between three and five applicants for a position. Now, there are 25.

"Many years ago, we didn't have to recruit because people were knocking on our door," Rooney said.

That attitude toward recruiting changed when R. Edward Shilling became school superintendent four years ago.

"I really didn't believe we were recruiting extensively enough," Shilling said. "We went through a period of time when there was no teacher shortage. The attitude was that Carroll is a good place and the applicants will come to us. We did some limited recruiting in the state, but it wasn't enough."

At Shilling's direction, the personnel department developed a comprehensive recruiting program, which the superintendent has described as a "classy act."

"The bottom line for me is that a system can have an award-winning instruction program, a group of students willing to learn and an outstanding building, but if you don't have a winner in front of those students -- committed to get them to learn -- the other factors don't matter," he said.

The best school systems in the country are recruitingaggressively, he noted.

"It's absolutely critical to get the bestand the brightest in Carroll's classrooms," he added. "I'm unwillingto let them go to Baltimore, Howard and Frederick counties."

Recruiting is competitive. At any given job fair, there are dozens of school districts with displays and recruiters eagerly waiting to interview prospective candidates. In some instances, out-of-state school districts have had contracts in hand to sign teachers up.

"Other school systems are out there looking to hire teachers," said Mark Vigliotti, a Carroll recruiter who is a Hampstead Elementary assistant principal. "To get the best, you have to go out there and look for them."

Said Rooney: "We're not just competing with out-of-state schools. We're competing with Frederick, Baltimore and Howard county, too."

Many school districts, including Carroll, set up information displays about the system and the county. At a Pittsburgh-area recruiting fair, Carroll ran a video featuring the superintendent extolling the virtues of the county, the district and its curriculum.

"We're doinga sales pitch about Carroll schools and the county," Rooney said. "During interviews, we ask some rough questions to get some idea whether the person is worthy of a follow-up interview."

The district's recruiting training sessions encourage recruiters to make applicants feel at ease during screening interviews. Rooney said the district "takes a very friendly approach."

It works.

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