A new teacher at Indian Creek High School has spent part of her summer learning the best ways to use technology to teach math.
Jennifer Willard was hired to teach honors geometry and Algebra II, her first job in the classroom in six years. She has spent the past several weeks preparing her lesson plans and getting used to the school policies and technology, she said.
“The biggest change has been more use of technology — Indian Creek has iPads for each student. How can I utilize iPads for math? What apps can be used? A lot of that I’m still exploring,” Willard said.
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Willard joins more than 70 teachers coming to Johnson County schools this school year.
School officials have spent part of their summer filling open spots when teachers retire or take a job elsewhere. Some of the jobs were posted months ago, when school officials knew a teacher was not coming back at the end of last school year. But others just opened up. And as students prepare to head back for the next school year, some schools are still trying to fill empty spots, officials said.
At Greenwood schools, the district receives about 30 applications per week during the summer while jobs are posted. Indian Creek High School received about 10 to 12 applications per position, though in some subjects the number of candidates was scarce.
Finding math teachers, like Willard, was difficult, Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson superintendent Timothy Edsell said.
In recent years, open positions to teach social studies would garner as many as 50 applications per vacancy. But this year, administrators only received about 20 total applications for two social studies positions, Edsell said.
Edsell was surprised that the school district filled all of its open positions this early in the summer, he said.
Greenwood, Clark-Pleasant and Franklin schools currently still have positions that need to be filled, school officials said.
At Clark-Pleasant schools, nearly half of the almost 40 new teachers needed for this school year were hired at a job-recruiting fair, which gave the school district a head start on hiring, superintendent Patrick Spray said.
The recruiting fair was a different way of hiring teachers, Spray said. Generally, Clark-Pleasant, like other area school districts, receives application submissions through a job posting on the internet, then administrators go through applications and résumés before setting up a face-to-face interview.
Cody Honeycutt submitted his application and résumé online for a fifth-grade teaching position at Westwood Elementary School. Honeycutt especially wanted to teach at Greenwood schools because that was where he went to school, Honeycutt said.
For each of the several central Indiana school districts Honeycutt applied to, he submitted his application and résumé online, not knowing if he would get a call or have a chance to interview, Honeycutt said. Honeycutt applied to school districts in central Indiana because he thought that being familiar with the area would help him transition from his previous job at an elementary school in Greensburg.
He has spent the past month preparing for the new school year by getting familiar with fellow teachers and setting up his classroom, a process he never realized was so time-consuming before he was a teacher.
Before the first day of classes begin, teachers buy everything from extra supplies, to posters and decorations. Willard spent much of her free time putting up posters she made with inspirational quotes on them, Willard said.
Willard hasn’t taught in six years, but she remembers how rigorous preparing for the new year can be, from setting up her classroom to preparing assignments for the first day of school that she will use to get to know and understand her students better, Willard said.
“I’m trying to be in the classroom (often) to get things set up. Kids respond to the room and the environment they’re in,” Willard said. “It’s just a lot of different, new things in the classroom. I’m still exploring my first year being back in a school.”