A recruiter greets a candidate during Teacher Employment Days at the University of Northern Colorado. More than 100 recruiters will have booths at the 2010 event March 25-26 in Butler-Hancock Hall. (Photo by Barry LaPoint)
When job candidates started streaming through the doors of UNC’s Butler-Hancock Hall March 25 for the start of the 25th annual Teacher Employment Days, they were following in the footsteps of untold thousands of others eager to begin or advance their careers in education.
The candidates, who this year numbered around 1,100, were greeted by recruiters from 100-plus school districts as nearby as Greeley and as far away as Minnesota, Alaska and even Kuwait.
And some of those recruiters, like Bret Robinson, are UNC alumni who landed their first job in education after attending the UNC event.
Robinson attended the third TED in 1988 as a UNC senior and accepted a position shortly after as a teacher in Burlington, Colo. Today he’s superintendent of schools in Kiowa, east of Castle Rock, and attended the event as a recruiter for the 10th consecutive year.
"In ’88 it wasn’t anything close to what it is today," Robinson said of TED, which has become the largest educational career fair in the region. "Now it’s the granddaddy of them all."
He said that like many school districts facing budget constraints, his has cut back in the number of teacher employment fairs that staff attend, but UNC’s remains on the top of most recruiters’ lists.
"UNC’s event has candidates from a nice blend of licensing areas, especially some of the harder-to-fill areas like special education and science and math," he said. "Plus it’s well-organized, they have a nice lounge area for recruiters to take breaks in, good food and the online registration is easy. Not all fairs have all that."
Peg Griffin is fairs coordinator for UNC’s Career Services office and has been involved with TED since 1992. She said that the event’s popularity, especially during the teacher shortage that the U.S. faced at the start of the new millennium, has required her and the Career Services team to be creative problem solvers.
For instance, when splitting the event between Butler-Hancock and the Campus Recreation Center in 2000 to handle a record 251 school districts proved to be less effective for candidates and employers, she worked with Facilities Management staff the next year to reconfigure the lay-out of recruiter booths in Butler-Hancock to handle the increased demand.
The end of the teacher shortage created a different challenge for Griffin and event staff. Candidates started showing up outside Butler-Hancock Hall well before the doors opened at 8 a.m. so they could be among the first to arrange interviews with recruiters.
"I arrived one morning at 5:30 a.m. to find a man who had a tent in front of the door and I have no idea how long he got there," Griffin related. "He wanted to be the first to get in and was trying to keep warm."
With increasing numbers of candidates lining up as early as 5 a.m. in Greeley’s unpredictable March weather, event staff acted. Now, early-arriving candidates are directed to the recreation center and are able to talk with career counselors while waiting for the event to start.
Gay Jacobson is another UNC graduate who attended Teacher Employment Days as a student and was recruiting at this year’s event. After graduating in 1990, she taught in Fort Morgan before moving in 1998 to Alaska, where she’s currently an administrator with the Bering Strait School District. She was especially excited about attending this year’s fair because it was the first time she’d been back to campus since leaving Colorado.
"One of the best things about UNC’s fair is that unlike many others, there are recruiters from outside the state," Jacobson said. "It provides tremendous opportunities for candidates who want to spread their wings and find adventures in other parts of the country."
The 25th annual Teacher Employment Days at the University of Northern Colorado was 8 a.m.-5 p.m. March 25-26 in Butler-Hancock Hall. For more information, visit the university’s Career Services website or call the Career Services office at (970) 351-2127.
- Gary Dutmers
- The advance registration fee for the fair is $25 for UNC students and alumni, and $35 for those without a UNC affiliation.
- The annual average number of candidates attending the fair is about 1,100. Approximately half have a UNC affiliation and half don’t. UNC graduates about 600 candidates for teaching licensure each year.
- In addition to teaching positions, many school districts also have openings for principals, speech pathologists and counselors.
- Schools from the following states were at the 2010 fair: Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Texas, California, Arizona and Alaska. Recruiters from the Peace Corps and the Universal American School in Kuwait also will attend.
- Candidates at the 2009 fair had an average of six interviews and some interviewed with as many as 15 school districts.
- Attendance figures aren’t available for Teacher Employment Days held before 1997. Since 1997, a total of 12, 986 candidates have attended.