Infographic by Katie Whaley
By the end of May, the six teachers who are leaving will be replaced. The principals, department chairs and a district coordinator make the decisions that will affect both students and staff.
Schools primarily consist of teachers and students, and the former have a responsibility to educate the next generation.
Freshman Alison Scrivner’s previous geometry teacher, Peter Willett, moved during the middle of the year. Because of this, she understands the importance of hiring new teachers.
“Students are the future of America,” Scrivner said, “and without a proper education students cannot be expected to continue the legacy of the U.S.”
The many ups and downs of losing a teacher in the middle of the year and adjusting to someone entirely new makes the process of hiring the right teacher crucial.
Although the school principals and department chairs hire teachers, Columbia Public School determines the decisions made on staffing, and they are mainly based on the enrollment of students and programmatic decisions.
Dr. Jennifer Rukstad, principal, chooses people to interview based on the materials that the applicant provided.
“We conduct interviews and reference checks. Sometimes we interview a candidate more than once. Occasionally, we have a representative watch the candidate teach, if we can,” Dr. Rukstad said. “When we have made a decision, I make a recommendation to hire the candidate with Human Resources, which verifies the applicant’s credentials and references and then makes a job offer. If the job is accepted, I am notified.”
During interviews, different traits a person possesses stand out when looking for potential teachers.
“Confidence, humility and a motivation to always improve [are important,]” Dr. Rukstad said. “The future teachers need to be able to meaningfully engage all their students to strive for the best.”
Not only do teachers need to have all those qualities, but they also have to meet the standards of their department chairs.
“I want to see a passion for kids and for learning,” said Social Studies Department Chair Austin Reed, who is searching for one English teacher and a part time social studies teacher. “I am less concerned with number of years and more concerned with their passion and enthusiasm.”
In Dr. Rukstad’s estimation, it’s also necessary that the teacher have similar philosophies to RBHS.
“[I look for] a student-centered approach, [a] belief that relationships lay the groundwork for elevated student learning, a collaborative approach, a drive to learn and improve and a command of their content,” Dr. Rukstad said.
She also said another essential quality she seeks is a love for students.
“If the answer to the question, ‘Does this candidate love kids?’ is ‘No,’ then we don’t worry so much about the rest of their qualifications,” Dr. Rukstad said.
The interviewers take their job seriously, and they realize the importance of the teachers as the foundation of the school.
“It is always important, and it is a job that I do not take lightly,” Reed said. “The teachers we hire today will end up leading the school in five to 10 years.”
For teachers to be with a group of students five days a week from August to June makes them a significant part of the teen’s lives.
“Our teachers are the heart and soul of what makes Rock Bridge a great school,” Dr. Rukstad said. “Hiring is an immensely important process in ensuring our students have the highest quality experience.”
Scrivner also recognizes the importance of teachers and that the connection between the teacher and students are what makes the school run like a well oiled machine. Scrivner believes how a teacher works and cares about the students is what sets them apart from other educators.
“The most important quality in a teacher is that they are understanding and they want me to get better,” Scrivner said. “If you are struggling, they will help you understand.”