County schools' video plays up quality of life to lure needed teachers

Tape will be viewed at job fairs as system looks to hire 500

April 21, 1999|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

By September, Anne Arundel County school officials need to hire at least 500 teachers, and to help reel in candidates, recruiters are relying on a polished, professionally produced video of glistening sunrises, smiling students and enthusiastic teachers.

The 15-minute video, made by local filmmakers, is the newest trick in the recruiters' bag and is meant not only to highlight county schools, but also to sell Anne Arundel County as a place to live, work and raise a family, said Oscar Davis, a school human resource specialist.

"It is very competitive out there," he said. "And it is part of our marketing plan to attract quality teachers."

Selling the county and the school system has become crucial in the hunt for teachers. As the number of would-be teachers graduating from local colleges dwindles, teachers are likely to be lured by better-paying school districts. With some baby boomer teachers approaching retirement age, school systems around the country need more teachers.

This year, Anne Arundel offered $1,000 bonuses to teachers who signed immediately to teach special education classes. Davis said half a dozen teachers were hired with that incentive, which might be offered again.

The Howard County school board decided to do the same thing two weeks ago and will be using incentives in an effort to attract special education, math, science and reading teachers.

Baltimore school officials, trying to recruit teachers for positions in inner-city schools that are riddled with problems, are working with a developer to renovate a vacant apartment building where young teachers can live.

More rural counties, such as Carroll, have expanded their teacher recruiting to more colleges. The county school board hopes county officials will approve an increase in the salaries of beginning teachers. Recruiters are also trying to sign on teachers in the spring rather than waiting until summer, when fewer applicants are available.

Davis said using a video to lure teachers is not unique. A few school systems use them, including Montgomery County's.

Anne Arundel's $25,000 video, paid for by local businesses, is set to upbeat Whitney Houston music. It opens with a shot of the sun rising over the Bay Bridge as a young teacher drives from his home in West Virginia to his first teaching job at Park Elementary in northern Anne Arundel. Houston sings, "There is a bridge, there is a river that I still must cross as I am going on my journey."

As teacher Jason Williams parks his car in front of Park Elementary and gets out, a white bird flies overhead.

Superintendent Carol S. Parham, Anne Arundel Community College President Martha Smith, police officers, school principals and students praise the school system and promote the attractions of the Baltimore-Washington area. The video includes sweeping views of Washington, the Inner Harbor and Naval Academy midshipmen tossing their hats into the air at graduation.

"The bottom line is that Anne Arundel County is a good place to live and work," Davis said. "That is the message we want to get out. Annapolis is very beautiful, and our location between Baltimore and Washington is perfect. If you can't have fun here, then you can't anywhere."

Davis said the video will be shown at job fairs and sent to colleges around the country. Besides the video, recruiters at job fairs hand out plastic bags, pencils, note pads and other items bearing the school system's logo.

"People hear Anne Arundel and they say, `Anne what?' " Davis said. "We are really selling a quality of life."

Pub Date: 4/21/99

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