SCOTTSDALE, AZ - A Scottsdale-based company is helping to tackle the teacher shortage crisis in Arizona.
With recent studies showing thousands of jobs vacant at many public school districts, hundreds of teachers who are just quitting their jobs, and schools filling positions with staff who do not meet the standard teaching requirements, managers at Educational Services Inc. say they hope to try and fill some of that gap.
"We recruit nationally for classroom teachers, Pre-K through 12th grade," said Thomas Hancock, the Vice President of Human resources at Educational Services, Inc.
In the last two years, Hancock said they had placed about 50 teachers in Arizona, many of them lured away from harsh, cold climates.
"We have teachers placed in rural districts, we have teachers placed in Southern Arizona, in Northern Arizona, and across the Valley," said Hancock.
He said the focus of their Flex Teacher program was getting recent college grads into Arizona.
"We recruit from colleges of education, so when we recruit teachers they are already fully certified in their home state," said Hancock.
He added that ESI staff helped these teachers get the paperwork necessary to teach in Arizona, fill out forms, find a home, and even stayed in touch with them throughout the school year not just as mentors, but by offering them professional development opportunities as they grew in their careers.
Hancock said retaining teachers in Arizona was a big priority for the company so they could help solve the teacher shortage problem.
Middle school teacher Celia Sanabria-Aguilar was one of the recruits who came to Arizona through the ESI program.
Sanabria-Aguilar was originally from Illinois, and said she fell in love with the state while visiting relatives during Thanksgiving a few years ago.
"For me yes, weather was definitely one of the factors, but also the cost of living," said Sanabria-Aguilar.
She admitted she had to take a pay cut to work in Arizona, and like many teachers had recently taken on a second job to help with expenses that had come up, but she had no regrets.
"I am happier in the sense that I don't deal with the snow and my commute is 30 minutes as opposed to an hour and a half to two hours. The sun here is just amazing and I am paying less in taxes, so it kind of balanced things out," said Sanabria-Aguilar.
ESI is now in the process of relocating to their new headquarters in the Scottsdale-Kierland district to provide additional space for future development and expansion.
The company was founded in 1999 as a one-district operation in Arizona and has now grown to become an employee- staffing solution for school districts, cities, and colleges across the state, according to their website.
The company also provides substitute teachers and helps retired teachers get rehired by school districts.