Monday, October 05, 2015

Rural school district finding success filling vacancies with international teachers

While many rural school districts have struggled to fill teaching vacancies, one district 43 miles from the Mexican border has found success internationally, Yoohyun Jung reports for the Arizona Daily Star. About 40 percent of teachers in the Ajo Unified School District (Best Places map) are from foreign countries, such as the Philippines, Jamaica, South Africa and India.

"Some of the international teachers have visas sponsored by the district. Others have experience working in other U.S. schools and pre-existing work visas or permanent residencies," Jung writes. School superintendent Robert Dooley said "word has spread through international teaching communities that Ajo is supportive of international teachers. That has led to more highly qualified foreign candidates' applying."

The district of 420 students from K-12—80 percent of them participate in the federal free and reduced lunch program—consists of 56 percent Latino students, 25 percent Native American and 14 percent white, states the district website. Dooley said to Jung about having international teachers, “For a smaller district like ours, it gives the kids a much broader world experience."

Filipino native Mercy Arancon, who serves as an instructional coach to help international teachers adapt to the U.S., said "there are challenges of being a teacher in a foreign country, including different instructional styles and content," Jung writes. "But there is a network of foreign teachers in Ajo who are there for each other." Personally, she said, she loves the town and the small-school settings. She told Jung, “It’s become personal for me, and I want to see the kids succeed. If I move, what will happen to my kids?” (Read more)

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