Sunday, 22 January 2017

Recruiting and the Road Less Travelled By

I encountered a colleague at our local airport recently. "Where are you off to?" she inquired. "Recruiting" I responded.  
"Good luck with that" came the response. "I'm not sure you'll find many willing to come"

As Superintendent of a northern district, I am well acquainted with the challenges associated with recruiting and retaining quality staff. Our staffing challenges have been recently  made more acute with the BC government granting interim measures funding to all sixty  districts to add additional staffing for the rest of the current year. In addition to competing with the perceived challenges of climate and geography, my northern district will now also face direct competition from all the other districts hoping to attract new teachers.

The fact is that all our students deserve quality instruction. Whether located in the northern reaches of the Peace River country or amongst the hustle and bustle of the southern metro areas, all students need to be served by eager enthusiastic and well trained staff. One of the questions yet to be answered is whether there are enough teacher candidates out there to go around? Of even greater pertinence for my district,  are there enough who are willing to take on the challenge of a northern teaching experience?

Teaching in the north comes with certain realities. Without a doubt the climate, the geography and the winter weather aren't for everyone. But then that's part of the beauty of the north. Its not for everyone, but  it is  a great place to start for the right sort of candidates.  While the weather might be cold, the people are warm and supportive. Our district motto is "Together We Learn" and its certainly true. We are all in this enterprise together. Opportunities for professional development and for new teachers to implement innovative ideas abound. For those willing and prepared to take on the challenge and opportunities afforded by smaller towns and districts, professional and personal rewards can be substantial.

Our district is full of outstanding professionals who came initially for "a couple of years" but found the district, lifestyle and opportunities to their liking and stayed. There's just something quintessentially rewarding about taking on challenges that others shrink from, and the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of students is that much greater in a smaller community.  Even those who don't stay forever, come away with valuable experience and life long stories about the people they've met, worked with and for. Both the district and our employees are enriched by the time we invest in each other. 

When I'm  recruiting I may not find lots of people willing to come but I'm always optimistic that I can find the right ones: those for whom the north will be the right fit or that first step on the way to a meaningful career.  I frequently tell candidates that there's always room for one more good one. Present circumstances suggest that there's never been a better time for folks to start a teaching career.  Certainly northern districts will eagerly welcome those candidates looking for opportunities beyond the more easily accessed districts.

So we'll be looking for those who want to take the road less travelled.  We're confident  that when they do that they, like Robert Frost's traveler in snowy woods, will see that their choice will make all the difference. If you are one of those people, or you know someone who is, check out our available postings and give us a call. We'll see about  getting you to work on education matters!