BY: CAROLINE ROLF
It’s easy to tell why Hawaii is considered one of America’s happiest states. It boasts sun, sand and surfing. Recently however, a fierce competition has broke out across the islands. Competition, that is, for teachers. There is a huge job opportunity in Hawaii right now as the demand increases for dedicated educators.
The Hawaii Department of Education anticipates having nearly 1,600 vacant spots to fill come fall because of the improving economy and an increasing number of Baby Boomers due to retire. What does this mean for millennials searching in the sparse market for work? If you meet the level of education and experience they’re looking for, you could be paid up to $63,665, according to the Teacher’s Salary Schedule. There is even the possibility of a $3,000 annual bonus for those working in certain rural areas.
Former reports by the National Center for Education Statistics have shown that 40 to 50 per cent of teachers in America left after the first five years. Although that number continues to decline, Hawaii still has one of the highest teacher turnover rates in the nation. “They say, I can’t live here,” explains president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, “and they leave and we have to go back and recruit, and this cycle just continually happens.”
The Department of Education is looking to fill positions in the secondary mathematics and science department as well as in special education. Officials have reached out to Mainland cities like Dallas, Chicago, New York, Portland, Newark and Los Angeles in need of teachers willing to relocate to the rural areas of the island and Oahu’s Leeward Coast.
Another objective of the DOE is to hold onto the current teachers while recruiting a younger generation of passionate teachers who are aware of the careers in education available in their communities.
It may sound like absolute paradise, but hopeful educators and officials alike know that a position in a rural school comes with the state’s high cost of living. Special Education teacher, Brittney Driggs was told by her friends that she would probably give up the gig after a year and move back home. Finishing her sixth year now at Mililani High School, Driggs tells Hawaii News Now that despite the pay being less than the Mainland, “I think it’s well worth it.”
Eager to teach and learn to surf in the Aloha State? Pack your sunblock and head to the DOE website to apply.