New to education candidates attracted to East Bay School District job fair

RICHMOND (KPIX) — The pandemic has been a catalyst for change in all areas of life and nowhere is this more apparent than in education. On Saturday morning, the West Contra Costa County Unified School District held a job fair as it attempted to rebuild its workforce from the ground up.

At WCCCUSD alone, more than 200 faculty and staff have left due to the pandemic. Some have been driven out by the economy, others attracted by new possibilities.

“I think it was just an opportunity for people to realize that they can do other things and people just make different choices, I guess,” said Janet Scott, director of classified personnel for the district.

At the Dejean Middle School job fair in Richmond, it was more of a trickle than a flood, but administrators found that most new applicants had never worked in the schools before.

“They come from different areas,” Scott said. “They don’t come from different districts, they come from different vocations to go into education, so we’re excited about that.”

This is the case of Mary Vargas, a wedding and event planner from El Cerrito who feels drawn to teaching by the importance of her work.

“I have school-aged kids and it’s so important, the role of a teacher, and I think that encouraged me that I would be a good fit for that,” Vargas said. “And there’s definitely a need there. I want to help the next generation of kids.”

Carina Saltiga had a more practical ambition. After having a child of her own, she hopes to avoid the daily commute and find a school office job that will keep her closer to home.

“I’m a new mom and I wish I had more time to be able to keep an eye on my kid, so I don’t want to miss those opportunities, basically,” she said. “It will work better for me and my husband.”

For Lance Winston, it was about going home. He said he hoped to become a coach and perhaps teach history or social studies at one of the schools he attended. He knows what he is looking for in class.

“Someone like me,” he said. “I struggled with reading and writing and there were teachers here who were very specifically interested in me. Now you want to go home and you want to give the whole experience back to the younger generation.”

It’s music to the ears of Dr. Sylvia Greenwood, who leads the district’s graduate teachers. They have suffered great losses in the teaching ranks, so it means a lot when former students return to take their place.

“When I see my own students coming back or other principals and other administrators seeing their children wanting to come back and teach in their own schools that they graduated from, there’s a great sense of fulfillment here when that happens,” said said Dr. Greenwood. said. “That’s where my hope lies, that people want to come back to it, that they see that there is a great need to support children.”

The pressure is there. The district must fill as many positions as possible by the time school resumes Aug. 16. In addition to teachers, the district is looking for classified personnel, from office workers to catering, grounds maintenance, and janitorial personnel. They will hold two other job fairs on the next two Saturdays, July 23 and 30, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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