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The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

What it takes to be a teacher

With new staff coming in for the 2016-17 school year, we explore the process of becoming a teacher.

High school is usually the time someone will find a job of their own.

Typically, it’s students starting at a minimum wage retail job at somewhere like the mall. But high school can also be an opportunity for those working in education.

A number of positions have recently opened up at MTHS, including an English and Family and Consumer Science teachers.

The application process at Edmonds School District (ESD) starts with the school having and advertising an open position.

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Next in the process is teachers sending in applications. The applications are long and filled with questions about one’s ability as an educator along with past experience and references.

According to principal Greg Schwab, applications can either come in large numbers or there can be almost none. It’s usually among the niche positions, such as Family and Consumer Science teachers, that don’t see many applicants. However, MTHS has also seen a small amount of applications for math positions, Schwab said, due to math teachers being in such high demand.

After people send in applications, Schwab will pick somewhere between two and five candidates to advance to the interviewing process.

The interview is held in a group typically including Schwab and other MTHS staff members working in the department the applicant is applying for.

There’s usually one [applicant] that stands out among the rest and it’s pretty easy to decide on who to hire.

— Greg Shwab

For example, when the interviews were held for a new English and journalism teacher, the interviews included Schwab and English teachers Jennifer Widrig-Hodges, Vince DeMiero and Peter White.   

“ESD has always believed in group interviews,” Schwab said. “It’s the same policy district-wide.”

Schwab said it’s not uncommon to include a student or parent to be present in the interviews. It’s usually during interviews for a new coach that either an athlete or an athlete’s parent will be involved. This is because a coach will work mostly with students and MTHS wants to have as much input as possible when it comes to hiring a new staff member, Schwab said.

The interview includes a list of 10 questions and those conducting the interview will ask at least one each to the applicant, who will answer as honestly and as best as possible.

The interviewers will take notes on the applicant’s answers and, after all interviews have been conducted, will discuss their top choice.

Usually, it’s between one or two people that the interviewers will have in mind.

Schwab said he’ll usually ask the room “can we live with either one?” to which the answer is almost always yes, according to Schwab and he will make the final decision based on who he believes everyone at MTHS will work well with.

“There’s usually one [applicant] that stands out among the rest and it’s pretty easy to decide on who to hire,” Schwab said.

After he has decided on a candidate, Schwab will reference check their applications by calling their employers and look at their past positions as an educator. Then he will call the candidate and “job-offer” them. While Schwab said he has had candidates who have declined the offer, they usually accept. After everything is final, Schwab will call the others applicants who were interviewed and inform them that the position has been filled.

Then there’s paperwork. After someone is hired at ESD, they are required to fill out paperwork regarding governmental forms and documents. Most of it is Human Resources-related, Schwab said, along with other ESD-specific documents.

After the candidate has been hired they will begin their job at MTHS. Schwab said it’s unlikely but not completely unrealistic for a new staff to have looked good during the application process but just either not fit or not do well as an educator at MTHS.

Schwab said he’ll typically evaluate the new staff over the course of the year and by the end of the year, he’s able to decide whether or not they should stay.


One Student’s Experience On An Interview Team

During the application process for hiring a new English and journalism teacher, I was a part of the interview process.

I was invited by Schwab to sit with him and three English teachers while we each asked two questions each from a preset list and took notes on their answers. One of the questions, “If you could teach any book to a room of ninth graders, what would it be and how would you set up the lessons?” was given to the applicants beforehand.

Our group interviewed three people, two via Google Hangout and one in person. The five of us conducted in the back conference room in the main office.

After each person had been interviewed, Schwab asked everyone to say which candidate they’d want to hire. The decision was split between two people and, after a group discussion, Schwab asked the room if either one would work. Everyone agreed that either applicant could be hired and Schwab told us he would make some phone calls and do some reference checks and “job-offer” whoever he felt fit.

The next day, Schwab sent me an email informing me that Mike McLaughlin, one of the three candidates, accepted Schwab’s offer to work at MTHS.

The other week, at freshman orientation, I noticed McLaughlin had moved some of his things in room 113 and he’s already stepped in for a couple of days during this past week to see what the Hawkeye is working on.

McLaughlin was very successful during his application process and I am very excited for this next year with him!

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