Teacher candidates speak with a school district representative at the HATC Job Fair in the University Center.
“I think I just got a job!” It was a giddy statement that could be heard throughout the halls at UH on November 8. The purpose of the Houston Area Teacher Center (HATC)’s biannual Student Teaching Inter-Institutional Conference and Job Fair is to bring future teachers and representatives from 34 public school districts together to learn and network. For many students, it was the culmination of a long-held dream – finding that first teaching position. More than 650 teacher education students participated in the lively event.
Teacher Candidates preparing to interview with school district representatives at the HATC Job Fair.
Teacher Candidates from the UH College of Education and eight other Texan universities began the day with a general session in the UH Cullen Performance Hall where district representatives fielded questions from students eager to secure teaching jobs.
The students also met at Farish Hall to attend workshops that covered topics such as job seeking strategies, legal issues, classroom tips, and technology for 21st century learners.
UH Downtown Students pose with Aldine ISD Representatives. From left, David Villareal, Marlen Pena (student), Nicole Padilla (student), Gloria Cavazos, Karina Rodriguez (student) and Selina Chapa at the Job Fair in the University Center.
The day ended with a job fair at the University Center where teacher candidates met with representatives from area schools, interviewed, and in some cases, walked away with the job offers they had been working so long to attain.
“This was a great opportunity to network with educators and district leaders of Houston and surrounding areas," said student participant, Nicole Padilla. Padilla received a job offer from Aldine ISD.
A teacher candidate meets with a school district representative at the HATC Job Fair in the University Center.
As a consortium of the UH College of Education and 34 Houston area public school districts, HATC provides a forum for representatives from each school district to solve issues of common concern. Together district and UH representatives discuss certification areas that districts would like to focus on, job placements for student teachers, policy statements and more.
“Our HATC partners give our program key connections to what is happening in districts—hiring needs, teacher concerns, and new initiatives. We meet regularly with our district partners, and I can point to countless examples of program initiatives that have come directly out of our good conversations,” said Professor Melissa Pierson, Associate Dean and HATC Director. "The Inter-Institutional Student Teaching Conference, in particular, gives our teacher candidates a chance to meet and make important connections."
In 1971, HATC began with only six Houston area school districts under the direction of UH Professor Robert Houston. A grant from the US Office of Education funded it initially, but the innovative concept caught fire. One of the first teacher advisory groups of its kind in the country, HATC’s success helped inspire the State of Texas to mandate that similar teacher centers be created across the state. Over the years, the consortium has bloomed in its size and impact.