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Published: Friday, 3/18/2005

UT, BGSU events give new teachers leg up on a career

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Most education majors like Tess Thobe, who is a senior at the University of Toledo, feel ready by the end of college to stand at the head of a classroom of children.

But even with four years of rigorous training, Miss Thobe said it helps recent college graduates to hear first-hand accounts of how to get a job teaching and what to expect once they do.

More than 150 undergraduate and graduate students from UT and nearby colleges will gather tomorrow for the third annual Future Teacher Conference, which allows educators to share their struggles and successes in the classroom with college students.

"People always say what an easy job it is being a teacher. But, in reality, it's one of the most important jobs," Miss Thobe said. "Even though you only work nine months of the year, you work extra hours after school and weekends plus your responsibility is to be a mentor to the children."

Pat Gucciardo, associate principal of Washington Junior High School in Toledo, will be one of 30 people speaking about career services, science and math technology, foreign language, early childhood education, and special education.

"The presentation that I have stresses the importance of liking kids, and I know that sounds trite, but kids can be really challenging," Mr. Gucciardo said. "The big thing is classroom management. I think they have to adjust to the fact that kids aren't going to sit there like people do in college."

He also noted that the demand on teachers for their own education and licensing requirements is much greater than it was years ago.

In addition to tomorrow's UT symposium, which will be held at the Clarion Hotel-Westgate in West Toledo, Bowling Green State University is preparing for its 21st annual teacher job fair to be held April 12 for its students and alumni.

The two events signal the end of the college academic year, when new teachers hope to be hired. But many officials point out they are not likely to find jobs locally because of persistent job shortages.

Budget cutbacks and layoffs over the past several years have been the norm at many school districts in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.

Toledo Public Schools slashed more than 300 jobs over the past two school years. Although some of that was achieved through attrition, 70 teachers were laid off last school year.

Larry Sykes, president of the Toledo Board of Education, said the local teaching job prospects are dismal.

"Most teachers are leaving Toledo because we don't have the jobs," Mr. Sykes said. "We are only hiring special education teachers because they are in demand."

The jobs shortage contrasts with just four years ago, when local districts were desperate for even substitute teachers, and officials in Ohio and Michigan expected the situation to worsen.

Despite the lack of jobs for teachers in the Toledo region, some parts of the country can't attract enough educators - which has created a disparity among regions of the nation.

Connie Hunt, job fair administrator for the BGSU Career Center, said the school's teaching fair has attracted 142 school districts so far - many from the South, California, and even from Alaska. The Las Vegas school system and many in Florida aggressively recruit nationwide at job fairs like the one next month at BGSU.

The event is expected to draw 600 to 700 students.

The University of Toledo graduated 536 students from the college of education for the 2003-2004 academic year.

At BGSU that same year, 990 students graduated from the college of education; of those, 655 were licensed to teach.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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