It is no secret that Ave Maria students and graduates embrace the teaching profession in droves. Perhaps it is because of their high intelligence and love of learning, and perhaps it is due to the strong model we have been given through our professors. In either case, any student who is considering a job in teaching should look closely at a wonderful opportunity right outside our door: Collier County Public Schools.
We had a recent conversation with Susan Miller, Coordinator of Staffing and Recruiting for CCPS. According to Susan, Collier County Public Schools shows a particular interest in Ave students because of their proximity and closeness to the Collier community.
“We want to see our community flourish,” she says. “Since Ave students live locally throughout the school year, they are able to understand our community and our students’ needs.” Unsurprisingly, our proximity and involvement in the community makes Ave students well-equipped to teach at local schools.
Susan also recognizes the importance of good character in the teaching profession, and that Ave provides an education that leads to well-rounded individuals and professionals. “CCPS is looking for employees who are motivated and willing to learn,” she says, “who set goals for themselves and look to build on their previous accomplishments, and who will display commitment to their work and their students. I think Ave Maria has a lot of students who fit that criteria.”
In short, CCPS is a great fit for Ave students because of their emphasis on character and development.
The high number of job openings also serves as a plus. Last year they hired over 300 new teachers, and every January they usually hire another 40 to 50 new teachers as well. On top of that, there is usually at lot of turnover. Both in Collier County and on a national scale, teachers will often switch schools and look for new opportunities after 2 to 3 years.
As a result, CCPS offers a wide variety of training and mentoring during an employee’s first few years on staff. New teachers will receive a mentor, a newsletter with various events they are encouraged to attend, and new teachers are given a survey so that CCPS can better help them on the road to success.
After three years of teaching, teachers can go through clinical training to become mentors to university students, and after five years, teachers have the opportunity to go through training to become a curriculum coach to other teachers, which can potentially lead to a position in administration. In Susan’s words, “We really put in a lot of effort because we want our teachers to stay with us.”
CCPS makes it clear that they are not just interested in education majors. Anyone who has pursued specialized studies (in any major!) are welcome to apply and teach, and CCPS will assist them in the process of applying for the required state teaching requirements.
When asked if she had any tips for those interested in applying to CCPS, Susan emphasized the importance of volunteering so as to experience the environment of the classroom and the county school system. She recommends interning at a Collier County school in order to learn what’s expected of their teachers. Interns have the added benefit of being placed at the top of the application pool for post-graduate positions.
Susan also mentioned that volunteering leads to connections with people “on the inside” who work at other schools and can be helpful to candidates as they apply. “There’s really no need to apply without making a prior connection,” she says.
There are lots of ways that CCPS makes it both attractive and easy to apply for teaching positions. CCPS is willing to provide mock interview sessions for students, which allow students the chance to practice questions and answers with staff before the interview. They are willing to come on-campus to help applicants get their paperwork started, or speak about Collier County’s code of Ethics. “Everyone should know the expectations in the beginning,” Susan explains, “rather than making mistakes and being corrected.”
The goal of CCPS is to encourage students to consider the teaching profession from an early age, and to take the right steps to secure their place in Collier County’s education system. CCPS is a great fit for any Ave Maria student considering teaching.
CCPS will be visiting campus on Wednesday, October 26th at 5:00 PM in the Ballroom to provide more information on their opportunities and answer questions. Thanks to Susan Miller for conducting this interview! We’re glad to be partnering with CCPS.
For more information, see the CCPS website: http://www.collierschools.com/