UPDATE: Hamilton County School officials are hiring 300 new teachers for the 2018-2019 school year.

The teacher shortage is affecting schools in Chattanooga and across the state. Hamilton County is holding a teacher recruitment fair to find high-quality teachers to fight the shortage and improve the school system.

“We want the best teachers here for our students," Erin Harrell, a recruiter for the school district, said. "Our goal is to be the fastest improving school district in the state of Tennessee. The first step is to recruit and retain the best teachers."

The job fair is an annual event for Hamilton County Schools. But this year, organizers are putting more strategy into recruiting teachers for schools needing more assistance.

“Help people find their fit, instead of being thrown into a position, " Carmen Carson, with the Opportunity Zone, said. We can be more strategic, help with retention, help with instructional practices. Help with community as a whole."

Hamilton County has to fill over 130 positions for the 12 Opportunity Zone schools. Those schools are recognized by the state for their low performance.

“We know it is not easy, but teaching isn't easy," Carson said. "We are looking for people who are completely dedicated to changing lives and making a difference for those students who need those opportunities.”

Carmen Carson works in those low performing schools. She sees the effects it has on students when teachers leave after a year.

“When kids have challenges at home, they've had a lot of ups and downs, it is so important for us to have strong teachers who are dedicated, Carson said. " And not just dedicated to be there every day but dedicated to be there year after year.”

Ninety-one percent of teachers choose to stay. Erin Harrell said that retention rate is standard, but she hopes recruiting dedicated teachers will improve education in Hamilton County.

“We will have a renewed focus this year, on an induction program and mentoring program for all of the new teachers in the school district," Harrell said. "Lots of great growth opportunities for teachers here at Hamilton County.”

PREVIOUS STORY: Hamilton County Schools constantly seeks high-quality teachers to work with the children in its schools and those efforts take system representatives far and wide to find the very best.  To focus on teaching talent closer to home, a special recruiting fair is planned for Monday, December 11 to provide opportunities for excellent teachers in Chattanooga, North Georgia and North Alabama to connect with school principals about future openings.

The recruitment fair will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Monday, December 11 at East Ridge Elementary. Principals from each school in Hamilton County will be at the fair with information about spring openings for this school year and possible teaching positions needed for the 2018-2019 school year. 

“We invite great teachers to find their hometown in the scenic city of Chattanooga,” stated Erin Harrell, recruitment and field experience coordinator for Hamilton County Schools. “Chattanooga is a great place to live, work and play and is a good compliment to our excellent school system in attracting quality teachers.”  System recruiters regularly share with potential teachers that Chattanooga was awarded Outside Magazine’s “Best Town Ever” and is recognized nationally as a top city for entrepreneurs. 

The Tennessee Valley is also a great place for teachers to grow their careers with local leadership opportunities found with the Teacherpreneur Incubator, Fund for Teachers, and STEM Fellows.  With more than 80 schools in Hamilton County ranging from urban to rural or suburban, teachers can find their perfect fit.  Teachers can also learn more about Hamilton County’s new Opportunity Zone at the recruitment fair and how working there can allow a teacher to be a catalyst for incredible learning and growth in the life of a child.

If you are a great teacher committed to providing a brighter future for children, Hamilton County Schools has a place for you to help the system become the fastest improving school system in Tennessee!  “Every year we hire nearly 300 teachers, and we are seeking talented teachers locally, regionally, and nationally who are committed to student success and their own professional learning,” Harrell said. “This recruitment fair is the opportunity for experienced teachers and teacher candidates to meet with our principals about upcoming positions and start networking for upcoming teacher openings.”

If you plan to attend the recruitment fair, you may register for the event online