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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Nashua job fair attracts teacher hopefuls

NASHUA – Lindsay Everhart has always known that she wanted to be a teacher.

She played school as a kid, and as a college student, she knew she wanted to study elementary education. ...

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NASHUA – Lindsay Everhart has always known that she wanted to be a teacher.

She played school as a kid, and as a college student, she knew she wanted to study elementary education.

And while the field has undergone drastic changes in recent years, with ever-changing federal reform programs and initiatives, a call to tie student achievement and standardized testing scores to teacher evaluations, and frequent battles between teacher unions and school systems, Everhart said her attitude toward her chosen career path hasn’t changed at all.

“It takes a certain type of person to be a teacher,” she said. “For most people, it’s something they’ve wanted to do for a long time. And I don’t think a little negativity will change that.”

Everhart was among hundreds of teachers, guidance counselors and college students who flooded the halls and cafeteria of Nashua High School North on Wednesday afternoon, hoping to find a job in the school district for the next school year.

The annual job fair has been held in the city for at least 10 years, and while the number of attendees has fluctuated from year to year, there have always been hundreds of job seekers.

Human resources Director Dana O’Gara said the fair is unique from many other career fairs in that attendees are guaranteed interviews with school administrators.

About an hour after the job fair started Wednesday afternoon, a long line of chairs in front of the North Star Cafe were filled with job seekers interested in guidance and high school positions. In the cafeteria, teachers talked quietly around the tables while interviews were conducted along the back of the room.

Everhart was at one of those tables, chatting with fellow young teachers and soon-to-be college graduates.

While the jobs for which they were looking were varied, most teachers agreed on one thing: The changes to education nationwide wouldn’t be enough to deter them from following their passion – if they can find a job.

Jill Souza, 22, and Elizabeth Petry, 22, are set to graduate with their master’s degrees in elementary education in May from the University of New Hampshire at Manchester along with Everhart.

Souza said she has been working in the Manchester School District this school year in an internship, and has loved working in the city. The experience, she said, has prepared her for a job in Nashua. She’s just hoping she can find one.

“There are no jobs out there,” Souza said. “I always hear about people struggling to find ones for their first few years. A lot of people take long-term substituting jobs at first.”

Souza said she has only just recently started looking for jobs, and that she thought the Nashua job fair would be a good place to start. With so many elementary schools in the city, she’s hoping there will be a lot of job opportunities in the coming months.

O’Gara said earlier in the week that the district already knows of about 25 teaching positions opening because of retirements. At least that many more will likely open from resignations before the end of the school year.

Many of the openings are in special education, as well as art, technology and similar fields.

For Rivier University graduate student Elizabeth Torpey, 28, attending the job fair was the kickoff to a new step in her education career.

Torpey worked for three years as a teacher assistant at a Massachusetts private school after earning her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. For the last few years, she has been earning her master’s degree at Rivier. She came to the job fair last year to “get her foot in the door,” and hopes that having another interview this year will pay off.

“It’s hard, especially paying for college and loans,” she said of her job search.

Still, the women agreed they would keep at it until they could do what they love.

Hearing negative comments about teachers and learning about the ways in which their jobs could get more challenging in the coming years doesn’t deter a passionate educator, Everhart said, so it’s no surprise so many teachers keep showing up to the district’s job fair every year.

“You just have to do the best you can,” she said. “That negativity is going to happen no matter what field you’re in.”

Danielle Curtis can be reached at 594-6557 or dcurtis@nashua Also, follow Curtis on Twitter (@Telegraph_DC).