As local education leaders mull the finalization of summer and fall academic plans amid the coronavirus pandemic, representatives in the D.C. public and public charter school sectors held a virtual job fair that attracted more than a thousand candidates for teaching positions of various disciplines and grade levels.

The two-day online event, hosted by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education, the DC Public Charter School Board (DCPCSB) and talent management nonprofit EdFuel, built upon an in-person event that DCPCSB conducted last year in its recruitment efforts. This time, 56 local public charter schools participated, along with the D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) central office.

For Maya Stewart, middle school principal at DC International School in Northwest, the opportunity helped maintain some sense of continuity during what’s been described as an uncertain time.

“People seem to be leaning into what is familiar so we’re worried about the speed at which candidates are coming in more than usual,” Stewart said.

Throughout much of each day on May 6-7, Stewart and her colleagues navigated Brazen, an online interview platform through which they and representatives from other schools showcased their offerings, conducted chat room interviews and viewed sample lessons.

Candidates who registered weeks prior entered various “booths” from the morning until well into the evening hours. At the end of the two-day experience, Stewart spoke to more than 80 potential hires.

“The fair met a significant need during a time when we all feel like we have very little control over what happens next,” she told The Informer. “As a hiring team member, the fair gave me hope that we’ll have a full staff in the fall to respond to the huge gaps our students will face.”

Mayor Muriel Bowser is expected to reveal summer and fall academic plans at the end of this week. Last month, she designated May 29 as the last day for DCPS and requested that local public charter schools follow suit.

The announcement came several weeks into distance learning programs that tested teachers’ ingenuity and revealed socioeconomic gaps that have long complicated students’ ability to learn in the traditional school setting.

As a teacher recruitment partner, EdFuel has expressed a commitment to ensuring teacher diversity and aiding in the composition of a staff that reflects the racial and ethnic makeup of an institution’s student body.

Last week’s job fair included avenues for novices eager to enter the profession. Representatives from teacher certification programs spoke with those making that transition, while city agencies revealed potential housing and transportation benefits for educators.

Even though ongoing circumstances have called into question how schools would continue to operate, EdFuel’s managing partner Kelly Gleischman described the fair as a beacon of light for administrators.

“Schools are being innovative to make sure they’re assessing the effectiveness and quality of candidates,” Gleischman said. “They are being really thoughtful about how they engage candidates, and even in the virtual environment they can double-check the person they are bringing on.

“There are some drawbacks, but this broadens the reach of the event in many ways,” she said. “Candidates can participate if they’re not based in the District. They don’t have to worry about transportation. There are opportunities, even in the virtual setting.”

Sam P.K. Collins photo

Sam P.K. Collins

Sam P.K. Collins has more than a decade of experience as a journalist, columnist and organizer. Sam, a millennial and former editor of WI Bridge, covers education, police brutality, politics, and other...

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