Thinking outside the box for teacher recruitment
By Dr. Bobby López
Special to The STAR
Bob Hope School continues to grow from its initial 240 students in grades six through 12 to more than 2,500 students in PK3-12 today. Every year, due to an increase in enrollment, we add between 10 to 15 teachers. This year, it has been quite a challenge finding these new teachers.
The COVID pandemic has hit everyone hard. As we frequent most any restaurant, we find it much more difficult to get quality service due to staff shortages. It is not uncommon to see signs advertising bonuses for new hires.
Thinking outside the box is not anything new to Bob Hope School. Increasing our teaching staff has always been a challenge to us, yet we have met it every year. This year, we decided to go boldly where we have not gone before. BHS placed radio advertisements in Puerto Rico and sent staff there to interview teachers. Guess what? We found teachers!
Our Human Resources staff went to Puerto Rico to conduct a job fair and secure teachers. In this recruiting effort, we were specifically looking for candidates who were fully bilingual graduates with a bachelor’s degree. Other requirements included being team players, being willing to adapt, and most importantly having a focus on student-centered learning. The main questions candidates had about relocating to Texas dealt with cost of living and the size of the cities where our BHS campuses are located.
Mr. Christian Cruz, a native Puerto Rican and a Bob Hope School teacher for the past six years, attended the recruiting trip and assured the applicants that they would easily adapt to Texas living. Not only are salaries at Bob Hope School double that of teacher salaries in Puerto Rico, but the cost of living in Texas is lower compared to that of many other states.
The prospective teachers were comforted by the fact that the Puerto Rican community in Southeast Texas has grown tremendously over the past few years. The applicants were also reassured knowing that they will receive more materials and resources for their classrooms than they did on “the Island,” as Puerto Rico is affectionately known. Of importance to the teachers was the realization that with Bob Hope School they would have great job stability.
Mr. Cruz said the one thing that the teachers would probably miss the most about Puerto Rico is the food. He told them that there is a Puerto Rican food truck in the area, so they can at least get a little taste of home when they need it.
Esmeralda Maravilla, who traveled from the Human Resources office, said that the people of Puerto Rico were very friendly and hospitable. From her experience, she could see how deeply rooted they are with their culture, which is a blend of Taino, Spanish and African. From their food to their colonial architecture, it was clear to her that Puerto Rico is rich in history and tradition.
Bob Hope School is supplying airfare and fully furnished living accommodations for these newly hired employees from Puerto Rico for a period of three months. This will allow for a smooth transition to their new home in Port Arthur.
We know that finding the right teacher is not easy. As is said, when they do not come to you, then you go to them. Ensuring that we get the best individuals is what we are committed to doing at Bob Hope School. The results of our continued growth prove that parents in our communities are happy with their child’s teachers and we will continue to enhance opportunities for all teachers.