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    By Todd Martin

    For all the conveniences of digital communications, there's still nothing like a face-to-face interaction when it comes to hiring someone, particularly a classroom teacher.

    In its annual start of the major hiring season, the Killeen Independent School District hosted its spring teacher job fair Saturday at Harker Heights High School with more than 400 potential applicants pre-registered by start time.

    "It's a happy day to help these young teachers find their place," said KISD Chief Human Resources Officer Steve Cook.

    Traditionally, the fair results in about 100 new teacher hires for KISD. The district is large, with about 3,000 teachers and it is transient and needs close to 500 new teachers every year, Cook pointed out.

    "The cool thing about this is we can showcase our facilities and our staff and they can come see all our principals in one place," he said. "It's efficient for them and for us."

    Scattered through the high school cafeteria, with elementary schools at the front and secondary schools at the rear, applicants could walk through, stopping at labeled tables staffed with teachers and campus administrators from each school.

    "It's really about relationships," said Ira Cross Elementary School Principal Tomas Sias. "Even though we don't have any openings right now, we get to meet people so we'll be ready when we do."

    Liberty Hill Middle School does have openings and Principal Jorge Soldevila said it was valuable to meet so many candidates in person at one time.

    "We're meeting and we're recruiting," he said. "It's not just about taking resumes, we can interact and see them face to face. They can hear from us and we can hear from them."

    Kelli Denton is finishing her second year of teaching at the middle school level in a Houston-area district. "I'm going to job fairs because a really haven't found where I belong," she said.

    She said it's the "light bulb moment" when students begin to understand a concept that draws her to teaching.

    Lanija Thomas is already a KISD employee, a special education aide at Reeces Creek Elementary School. She has a psychology degree and is almost finished with an alternative teacher certification program. She is also a former substitute teacher.

    She didn't know she wanted to be a teacher until she too saw the light bulb turn on.

    "When I was subbing, I saw the light bulb come on," she said, explaining her desire to enter the classroom as a teacher. "I like to see them get excited."

    "It's a great opportunity for us to meet some of the new faces we're going to be seeing around KISD next year," said Soldevila. "It's educators meeting educators."

    April 14, 2018

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