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Friday, July 22, 2011

Alexandria Daily Town Talk (LA) - August 9, 2008

Filipino teachers join Avoyelles Middle Schools

Bunkie -- Rosario Lubanga can't help but smile.
The teacher is worlds away from her home, but still she smiles, saying, "We believe we can make a difference here."
And the Avoyelles Parish School District agrees.
Lubanga is one of the eight teachers from the Philippines who will be teaching at Bunkie Middle School this year.  They will join four others who will be teaching at Marksville Middle School.
They come to the rural Louisiana parish's middle schools with certification in need-specific areas, such as special education and English.  Some have master's degrees and a few including Lubanga have earned a doctorate.
"These teachers will be an asset for our middle schools," Avoyelles Parish Schools Superintendent Dwayne Lemoine said.
Lemoine was having trouble finding certified teachers willing to teach in his parish's middle schools.  He said there is an educator shortage and that Avoyelles Parish is surrounded by parishes that pay their teachers more.
The middle schools also have been a problem area for the parish with slipping standardized tests scores and overhauls done for budget cuts.  The schools have not had librarians, assistant principals and counselors, nor have they offered electives such as agriculture or home economics.
Initially, the district planned to move the middle schools onto the high school campuses so the two could share resources.  The problem, district officials say, has been money.  The plan was halted because the parish is under a federal desegregation lawsuit and the plan is being reviewed.
In the interim, Lemoine has said, the middle schools will not be the same when students return this fall as the parish cannot afford for them to be.
This year, Bunkie Middle School made the state's "academically unacceptable" list because of its standarized test scores, attendance and dropout rates.
Some of the changes that will be made in the coming school year in Avoyelles, which begins Monday include:
Every middle school will have a dean of students who is in charge of discipline.
The schools will use the teaming concept, in which teachers work together to address the needs of the students.
Technology has been purchased for the middle schools that will allow online assistance programs for students falling behind and allow teachers who work with their peers from across the nation on strategies that are working in their classrooms.
Lemoine is pushing the house certified and highly qualified teachers in the middle schools, and that includes the teachers fro the Philippines.
The superintendent heard about Universal Placement International during a recent superintendents meeting.  Other parishes such as Caddo and East Baton Rouge have used the service.
The school district sent its needs to the company, and applicants' information was sent back.
"I never would have dreamed this in a million years," said Barbara Z. Jones, supervisor of elementary education.  "This is so exciting, and they have been a joy."
Jones has been working with the new teachers to help them get settled into their communities.
She said the district feels the new teachers are helping them, while the new teachers say Avoyelles Parish is helping them.
"This is a career advancement for us," said Maria Grace de la Cruz, an eighth-grade English teacher. "We want to win their hearts and their respect."
Rosalyn Andaya said she is a little nervous about the first day of school.
"We are ready to face the challenge and help out here," she said.
The new teachers at Bunkie Middle are all living together and initially will be walking to school as they do not have a vehicle.
May left families back home but are staying in tough through Internet and cell phones.
"We are feeling more at home here," Lubanga said.
The teachers will be at their schools for a year, and Jones said may hope to remain in the United States and bring their families to this country.

Author: Mandy Goodnight

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Times Picayune Metro - Sunday, May 25, 2008

Jefferson recruits batch of filipino teachers 
Dearth of educators forces 8,000-mile trip 

Frustrated by their efforts to fill critical teacher vacancies with Americans, a team of recruiters with the Jefferson Parish School System traveled more than 8,000 miles last month to find what they need.
After a week in the Philippines interviewing more than 600 candidates, jobs were offered to 60 teachers for the 2008-2009 school year.
The Philippines is considered a hot spot for teacher recruitment because if its abundance of highly qualified teachers, particularly in high-need areas such as math, science and special education.
"I was very impressed with the candidates and their desire to come to the United States and work," said personnel administrator Donna Joseph, a former teacher, who led the team.  "They were very knowledgeable about their subject matter, and I was shocked at how many of the candidates had their master's degrees."
School system spokesman Jeff Nowakowski said the trip cost between $12,000 and $15,000.
"It was expensive, but it's a high value for us to get such qualified people," he said, adding that the alternative is filing those position with substitutes or less qualified teachers.
Besides Joseph, the recruiting team included personnel administrator Betsy Daly and two principals, Jackie Daniilidis of Estelle Elementary School and Darvell Edwards of Helen Cox High School
Joseph said the four worked 14 to 16 hours a day interviewing teachers of all grade levels who primarily specialized in general math and science, advanced math and science, elementary education, special education and English as a Second Language.
The job offers are pending background checks, Louisiana certification and work visas, all of which is being handled by a Los Angeles company that specializes in placing foreign-born educators and health care workers.
The teachers, who will be placed in all grade levels on both sides of the river, will be paid the same as other Jefferson Parish teachers, who earn $39,000 to $54,000 a year depending on experience and education. In the Philippines, most teachers make less than $10,000 a year.
Joseph said she learned about the Philippines as a recruitment destination while attending a personnel administrators conference.  Her supervisors were intrigued.
"We travel all over Louisiana and neighboring states recruiting college graduates," she said.  But she said there are so few people majoring in education that Jefferson ends up competing with other local school districts for the same candidates.
As part of their research, Joseph and her team observed recently hired Filipino teachers in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System.  Among the schools they visited was Delmont Elementary, where seven of 100 new hires from the Philippines are working.
"You can't hire any more dedicated people who are willing to come to work every day to do what it takes to ensure that children are learning," said Delmont Principal Antoinette Bienemy.
She said one teacher was able to turn a group of poorly behaved third-graders into "little angels," while others were instrumental in raising test scores.  She said their new teachers include a former principal with a doctorate, a former college dean and an accomplished violinist and pianist.
Bienemy said their biggest challenge was adjusting to the culture.  For one thing, she said, they were not used to children with discipline problems, despite an average class size of 50 to 60 students in the Philippines.  But after working with veteran teachers for two weeks in Baton Rouge, they easily learned the school's discipline philosophy.
Joe Potts, head of the Jefferson Federation of Teachers, said he looks forward to meeting the new teachers in August but lamented the challenges finding teachers closer to home.
"We're not encouraging enough people here to go into education," he said.  "It shows you how serious the problem is if we have to go to the Philippines to recruit teachers."

By Barry Bronston
East Jefferson bureau

Madison Journal - June 27, 2010


On Wednesday. August 12, 2009 six foreign teachers were greeted at the Monroe City Airport by employees of the Madison Parish School District. Collaboration between Madison Parish School District Administrators and Universal Placement International an internationally recognized placement agency committed to finding qualified professionals embarked on the tedious process of selecting from over seventy Philippine teacher applicants of all content areas. Face-to-face video conference interviews were conducted at Wright Elementary via the district's new distance learning network which allowed our administrators to get a more personal feel for each applicant. The teachers are pictured with members of the Madison Parish School District, who met them at their airport with a sign in the teachers native language (L to R) Thiel B. Batoon, Adrialyn Pisano, Ann Davis, Anngelie Joy D. Geanga, Babylyn L. Abogado, Evelyn B. Faustino, Shelly Banks, Donna Lisa Crockett, and Maria Corazon S. Tablizo.

Photo submitted/Ronnie Holley
Madison Journal
June 27, 2010 8:55 PM