Jeff Davis Parish School Board hosts job fair

Published 2:57 am Thursday, June 6, 2024

The Jeff Davis Parish School Board hosted a job fair Monday to connect potential teachers with school administrators to fill open classroom positions throughout the district.

Nearly two dozen applicants were expected to attend the event to meet with district staff and school administrators, according to Assistant Superintendent Ben Oustalet.

Oustalet said the district currently has less than a dozen teaching positions it hopes to fill for the 2024-2025 school year. Additional positions are expected to open in multiple areas within the next few weeks.

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“Our goal is to always find certified people to work with our students in the classroom, especially in the areas of math, science and special education which are critical shortages for the state,” Outstalet said.

Many of those attending the job fair are really interested in working for the Jeff Davis Parish school district and are looking for the right job and right school, he said.

Prospective applicants ranged from recent college graduates, veteran teachers looking to switch districts and those seeking a career change.

Jessica Fontenot of Mermentau is among the aspiring teachers who passed out resumes.

“I am looking for any teaching position,” Fontenot said. “I’m not picky, I just want to teach.”

Fontenot, who has been a stay-at-home mom, is currently majoring in education studies and will finish her degree on June 30.

Brittany Schexnayder of Jennings, who has three years teaching experience in a private school and had been homeschooling her daughter, is looking to get back into the public education system.

“I like elementary students because they are fun and you can have organized chaos and still be learning,” she said.

Haylie Neal of Jennings, a former special education paraprofessional, is also looking to get into the classroom full-time.

“Being a para this year made me realize I love children and want to have my own classroom and be a teacher,” Neal said.

Neal is working on her certification through Louisiana’s ITeach program. The program allows those with a bachelor’s degree to get an alternative teaching certificate.

Sarah Richard of Iowa is seeking a career change after losing her job to budget cuts. The job fair offered good opportunities for aspiring teachers, she said.

Lake Arthur High School Principal Amanda Smith was hoping to recruit more high school and secondary certified teachers for hard-to-fill positions, including high school chemistry.

“Certified teachers are hard to come by,” she said. “We’ve seen a lot of quality applicants come through, but a lot are not certified, though some are working on their certification.”

The job fair is a great opportunity for prospective applicants, especially for people who love education, Smith said.

Lake Arthur Elementary School Principal Maura Guillory said the job fair has been good for the school district.

“When this started three years ago, I’d lost five people at one time because they were moving up in the district,” Guillory said.  “I had to hire five that were not certified and of those five, four are now certified so the job fair does help.”

Samantha Smith of Kinder said the job fair provided opportunities for interested persons to learn more about teaching throughout the district and meet one-on-one with school administrators.