The University of Delaware recently held its 38th annual Project Search education fair, with representatives of school districts from across the country in attendance.

Successful job fair

Students, recruiters say Project Search education fair generated promising leads


2:43 p.m., April 29, 2016--“Well prepared,” “innovative,” “enthusiastic,” and “ready to hit the ground running.” These were just a few of the accolades recruiters used to describe University of Delaware students at Project Search

More than 100 employers attended UD’s 38th annual education career fair on April 20 at the Bob Carpenter Center. Representatives of school districts from across the country interviewed 407 students and local education professionals for a range of positions in: early education, K-12, special needs programs, foreign language immersion, music instruction, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields and more. 

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As it neared time for the processional to open the University of Delaware Commencement ceremonies, graduating students and faculty members shared their feelings about what the event means to them.

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Jacob Kee, an elementary teacher education major, met with several recruiters from schools in southern Delaware. “I live in Lewes and am hoping to get a job down there,” he said, adding, “I made some great connections today.” 

For candidates wanting to teach even further south, a recruiter from Greenville County Schools in South Carolina was eager to talk. 

“We hire between 400 and 600 candidates a year, so we recruit all along the East Coast,” said 

Margaret Spivey, director of professional employment for South Carolina’s largest district. “I’d never attended Project Search before, but I’m truly impressed with the candidates. Our schools have incorporated full inclusion, so UD’s dual certification (in special education and elementary/early childhood education) is very important.” 

Jeff Conkey, Brennen School principal, was recruiting for the Delaware Autism Program. “We are fortunate to hire Delaware’s education students,” he said. “They are able to hit the ground running. Students with master’s degrees from other programs don’t always have as much interaction with our student population. UD graduates come to us with extensive experience, skilled in evidence based practice.” 

UD’s Career Services Center provides guidance to help students during the interview process. When asked what advice had been most helpful, Brooke Nichols, who is finishing up her 4+1 master’s program in exceptional children and youth, responded, “You want to seem interested and get more information about the schools. So it’s good to have a couple of questions prepared in case they ask if you have any questions. They come in handy, if you can’t think of anything at the moment.”

The only criticism of the event was that there weren’t enough candidates to go around. It is a nationwide concern that fewer people are going into the teaching profession. 

“It’s very competitive out there now,” said Jerry Lamey, Hodgson Vocational Technical High School principal, recruiting for New Castle County Vocational-Technical School District. “We’re trying to get the best candidates, so we come to Project Search every year. We meet quality students who are well-prepared. They are innovative thinkers and understand current education trends.”

Sulaiman Miller had a unique perspective, having interviewed at Project Search after graduating from UD in 2002 with a bachelor of arts degree in history. He was hired by Positive Change Academy as a teacher, was promoted to director of education and returned this year as a recruiter. “I remember sitting in those bleachers, and it makes me more sympathetic toward the students I’m interviewing today.” 

When asked about the value of Project Search, Miller said, “You can identify good candidates by reading their resume. But meeting with them face-to-face is much more valuable. You can see who really has a passion for teaching.” 

As the career fair wrapped up, a number of students emerged optimistic. 

“I feel good,” said Nichols. “I really enjoyed talking to the different representatives for the school districts. The interviews seemed to go well, so we shall see.”

Article by Alison Burris    

Photos and video by Lizzy Adams

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