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Valley Schools Highlight Northern Maine Living to Recruit Teachers

Published: Apr. 30, 2022 at 3:17 PM EDT
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FORT KENT, Maine (WAGM) -

Across the nation, school districts are faced with a problem that many employers are facing, staffing shortages, but what can be done to fill those critical positions? Brian Bouchard spoke with one group of school districts, trying to attract teachers by highlighting their strengths.

It’s a problem that the American school system has been facing even before the pandemic. In a report released by The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, they raised significant concerns about the nation’s future capacity to produce new teachers and other education professionals, which could be a significant problem for rural school districts.

“We’re in an increasingly competitive marketplace with a national teacher shortage, and we’re beginning to feel that, and have been for the last few years in very real time and in very real ways, here in the upper Saint John Valley.”

Peter Caron is the Coordinator of the Innovative Practice and Community Outreach for Valley Unified Education Service Center. In an effort to recruit new teachers, the Valley Unified Education Service Center has launched a new campaign centered around what it means to teach and live in the Valley.

“And so rather than wring our hands and just accept our fate we’ve really started to examine cutting edge and successful teacher and staff recruitment and retention procedures.”

In what is being described as the first phase of a strategic operation to hire and retain staff, the Service Center has started to develop digital brochures and video testimonials that will be provided to a potential employee when they apply for an open position.

The brochure and videos focus heavily on the values the schools live by, and the quality of the environment the schools foster. However it’s their focus on life in the St. John Valley, that they’re really hoping will attract teachers that want to embrace an Aroostook County way of living.

“If you want a metropolitan life style, then the upper saint john valley region, if that’s something you need on a daily basis, then isn’t the place for you to be. But if you love the idea of living in an area that provides 4 season recreational opportunities, safe schools, safe communities, and if you want to participate in shared leadership opportunities and lead student activities, those opportunities abound. So if those things mean a lot to you, then this is the place to be.”

Acknowledging that simply recruiting new teachers will not eliminate the shortage, Caron went on to say that in the second phase of their work they will focus on retention, saying they plan to overhaul the support services and programs available to staff. Hoping that placing a priority on teacher satisfaction will help prevent any future shortages.

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