While some school systems across the state face severe staffing shortages just weeks away from the start of the new school year, Harford County Public Schools is closing in on meeting its hiring goals and will make a final push by hosting a drop-in hiring fair for all positions on Aug. 16 from 3-5 p.m. at Aberdeen High School.
HCPS officials said they have approximately 35 teacher vacancies to fill before the school year begins Sept. 6. Approximately 250 certificated positions have already been filled for the 2022-2023 school year.
At a school board meeting in April, school officials spelled out their recruitment plan. One of the ways HCPS has filled its teacher vacancies is through its partnership with the Teacher Academy of Maryland. This program provides students an opportunity to complete their high school coursework and an early college program to achieve TAM completion and receive an associate degree in teaching from Harford Community College. The students intern under a master teacher during their senior year.
The program has grown from 17 students to 106 students since the 2019-2020 school year, Teacher Specialist Alissa Thomas reported during the April 25 board meeting. The program expects to have 176 students enrolled for the 2022-2023 school year, Thomas said at the time.
Among HCPS’ objectives is to hire more teachers of color. From 2020 to 2021, new-teacher hires increased by 17% while the number of teachers of color that were hired grew by 32%. Still, only 6.4% of Harford public-school teachers are persons of color, said Shannon Hagon, supervisor of staff management, during a presentation at the April 25 school board meeting.
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HCPS plans to accomplish its objective of hiring more teachers of color by recruiting virtually, Hagon said. During the 2020-2021 recruitment season, 59 virtual recruiting events were held; eight of those were with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or diversity centered, Hagon said.
During the 2021-2022 recruitment season, 14 virtual events and 22 in-person events were held; and three of those were with HBCUs and one at a diversity and inclusion fair, said Jillian Lader, HCPS manager of communications.
The school system has also used virtual hiring events, video interviewing, social media outreach and small virtual group presentations, Hagon said.
“While it’s hard to import diverse educators from other communities, the students who grew up here are in the [TAM] program,” Superintendent Sean Bulson said during the April meeting. “We do not have to sell this community to them. They already love and care for this community and are willing to commit to the community.”
Bulson said his goal is to hire at least 100 teachers every year who have graduated from the school system.
Along with the teacher vacancies, there are 15 bus driver and five bus attendant vacancies. The school system also has numerous support staff openings across the school system in instructional support staff, food and nutrition, school safety liaisons, facilities and more that they are trying to fill, said Lader.
Those interested in employment opportunities with HCPS are invited to attend the drop-in event or contact the human resources department for additional information at 410-588-5238. School administrators will conduct interviews on the spot and take applications for most positions, Lader said.