A $3,000 stipend for being a certified special education teacher and comprehensive retirement benefits led newly hired math teacher Kevin Allen to take a job with the San Antonio Independent School District.

Allen, who taught in North East ISD for five years, attended SAISD’s teacher job fair at Brackenridge High School on Thursday. After talking with staff at Poe Middle School, he interviewed for the teaching position on the spot and was hired within hours of walking into the job fair.

“I’m ready to come back into the classroom and make an impact,” Allen said.

With one month left until school starts, SAISD was facing 112 teacher vacancies before the job fair Thursday, said Arnoldo Gutierrez, executive director of recruitment and staffing. The district saw 660 teachers resign by the end of the 2021-22 school year, which Gutierrez said was “slightly higher” than other school years.

“I’ve been doing this 11 years, and it didn’t scare me,” he said. “We were expecting that.”

Gutierrez said the main challenge is making sure people know SAISD is still hiring just a month before school starts. The district decided to hold the job fair in July because the resignation deadline for staff was July 2.

“We now have a better idea where those vacancies are,” Gutierrez said. “We also want to make sure that principals and candidates can have a chance to meet in person and talk. It’s more like a one-stop shop today.”

SAISD set up booths at Brackenridge High School for each campus with vacancies, with signs posting which positions were open. The district mainly needs bilingual, career and technology, special education and math teachers, Gutierrez said. Candidates could walk around and see if their qualifications fit any of the vacant positions posted, visit with campus administrators, get their applications processed along with a background check and interview — all on the spot.

Midway through the four-hour job fair, new SAISD Superintendent Jaime Aquino grabbed a microphone and introduced himself to everyone. He said he came all the way from New York City to lead SAISD because that is how “exceptional” the district is. The students make the district exceptional, he said, and added that he is inspired by them every day.

“When you come to us as a new teacher, your teaching will be a gift that will last a lifetime,” he said. “We will be so lucky and honored to have you be part of this amazing journey of showing the rest of the country that the way kids come to us is not an excuse for the way they leave us.”

SAISD Superintendent Jamie Aquino addresses staff, recruiters, and potential candidates during a Teacher Career Fair on Thursday at Brackenridge High School.
SAISD Superintendent Jamie Aquino addresses staff, recruiters and potential job candidates during a Teacher Career Fair on Thursday at Brackenridge High School. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Jaydon Davis is one of those students. He graduated from Sam Houston High School and is completing his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at Clark Atlanta University. He attended the job fair Thursday to apply for a substitute teaching position because he eventually wants to become a chemistry teacher.

At first, Davis didn’t know what he wanted to do after high school until a teacher sat him down and helped him figure out a career path. The teacher — Ms. Walker was her name, he said — talked through Davis’ obstacles, connected him with a counselor and got him on the track he’s on now.

“I want to do the same for somebody else,” he said.

SAISD teachers with no experience begin at a salary of $55,609, but if they have a master’s degree they start at $57,609. Special education and bilingual educators qualify for $3,000 stipends. An SAISD master teacher initiative gives educators an opportunity to earn incentive pay in addition to base salary, which could provide an additional $5,000 to $26,500 annually for qualifying teachers.

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Brooke Crum

Brooke Crum covered education for the San Antonio Report.