Students Enlisted in Ads to Recruit Teachers

By Dennis Carter
Gazette Staff Writer
Thursday, July 26, 2007

In a $300,000 advertising blitz, the Prince George's County public school system is using appeals from its students in the hope that it will help lure the country's best teachers for nearly 800 jobs that remain vacant three weeks before school starts.

A dozen students are appearing in the "America's Classroom" ads, which are running in local and national newspapers, teacher trade magazines and on job Web sites for educators.

The campaign, the largest recruiting effort in the school system's recent history, stresses the diversity of the student body and is part of an effort that also has included a career fair in Greenbelt and upcoming recruiting trips along the East Coast and in the Midwest, school system spokesman John White said.

Prince George's began the summer with 1,391 teacher vacancies, 777 of which remain unfilled, White said.

Of his role in the campaign, Laurel High School rising freshman Jordan Martinez, 13, said: "I like representing my school and this county. And I think this shows that students are serious about learning, and teachers should . . . take our education seriously."

The advertisements feature images of students of all races and ages. Their aspirations are noted in strips that run with their pictures, with a polite touch added at the end. The ad featuring Martinez appeals: "Teach me to grow up to be an Electrical Engineer. Please."

Veta Martinez, Jordan's mother, has two other children in the school system, and the county selected her employer, recruitment advertising agency Bernard Hodes Group, to run the campaign. School system employees chose the final list of students, a schools official said.

Recruiting nationally was a logical step for the district, White said. The county hires about 1,200 educators each year, and about 2,500 teachers graduate from all Maryland education programs every year, according to state and county statistics.

"We are competing for a valuable resource, so we have to search far and wide," White said. The campaign "lets us put a face on the school system to let people know how diverse our students are," he said.

Joshua Lewis, 19, a 2007 graduate of Parkdale High School in Riverdale and a Greenbelt resident, also is featured in the campaign.

"You have good teachers, and some teachers that aren't so good," Lewis said, "but I would hope that this would bring some better teachers in the county."

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