Teaching expo helping to relieve teacher shortage in the Valley

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) —

On the first day of school this fall, classrooms across the Valley were empty. A Fresno State education professor said more than 600 teaching positions were vacant. A severe shortage that spurred people like Berenice Ceja to become an aspiring teacher.

“We’re serving about 75,000 students, so I mean, with a shortage, that’s 75,000 students affected.”

The Fresno Unified School District is in its second year of teaching drought and educators are actively trying to recruit new talent.

More than 200 promising candidates signed up for a Career Expo Tuesday. Learning about programs that grow people without degrees to those who are certified teachers.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet people, and see what I want to do for credential and masters programs– so here I am,” said Sean Johnson-Bey, aspiring teacher.

This is only the second expo and educators said it’s working. Out of the 350 newly recruited teachers this year more than 80 graduated from one of the pipeline programs offered at the event.

“It’s really exciting to see this interest, this positive interest in teaching as a profession nowadays,” said Fred Nelson, professor at Fresno State.

Those who complete teacher pipeline programs are guaranteed a Fresno Unified teaching position. Educators said these creative strategies are needed to close the gap.

“There are many areas where it’s beyond severe to the point of crisis. My field is science and that is one of the severe shortages,” said Nelson.

Ceja is expected to finish her program next year and she hopes what started off as an interest for her at this expo last year with turn into a career for more people.

“We are placed in high-need areas where our students really need us the most. I grew up low income, parents didn’t speak English, those are the children we need to help.”

Beside the pipeline programs, the district continues to actively recruit teachers from across the country and even people outside the country.

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