Hawaii. Is there any place on Earth more culturally nuanced, or more diverse? Of course, not. Then why is there a long standing teacher crisis? When I’ve asked teachers if they would be interested in teaching in Hawaii, the overwhelming response has been, WHO WOULDN’T!
It’s April. New teachers are to arrive in Hawaii to begin preparing for the new school year by July 1st. My information had yet to be included into the HDOE teacher database as a prospective teacher for schools to consider hiring.
One can’t toss their belongings in a U-Haul and head down the highway to Hawaii. Relocating means selling property at a fraction of its value, paying relocation expenses that include hefty deposits for housing, automobile purchases, furnishings, and hopefully thereafter having enough funds remaining to make it to the first salary installment. These combined hurdles would probably wreak havoc on one’s credit rating, which would add to the already stressful situation of new employment, and adjusting to a new environment. The expenses alone would cause most prospective teachers to no consider working in Hawaii. Additional expenses that I would have to incur include filing visa documentation with ICE, as my wife is a citizen of Japan.
I estimate that it would cost 30,000 USD to relocate to Hawaii. The HDOE doesn’t provide any financial assistance. How many people have a spare 30 grand laying around? Its recently been reported that the average American doesn’t have 400 dollars to their name.
I’ve been applying to the HDOE since December of 2016.
The HDOE application process:
The first stage for employment consideration was to submit personal data through an online web form. During this stage I spent a great deal of my time aiding the HDOE in updating the form coding as information could not be inputted including addresses, zip codes and phone numbers from international locations. (I’m an American citizen teaching abroad for the past decade.)
Once the initial step was completed, it was on to the StyleProfile Assessment. Here, a third party contractor gave 45 seconds to respond to a myriad of questions. I successfully completed this stage of the process on February 3rd, 2017.
The next stage was a face-to-face interview with a recruiting representative. This meant flying to Hawaii at my own expense, to partake in a one-hour interview. I wrote to the HDOE stating that I could not afford to fly to Hawaii to do the interview. The HDOE then scheduled an interview via telephone. I was to pay for the call.
The face-to-face, in person final interview:
The one-hour interview lasted 40 minutes. I learned the interviewer had done many interviews over the phone. If this was true, then why were teachers required to fly to Hawaii?
During the interview I was asked the same questions successfully answered in the StyleProfile Assessment. Those questions included:
- “What would you do if a student was crying?”
I would find out what was wrong. Perhaps it was a bullying issue, something that happened at home, or on the playground. I’d have to determine if it was a first aid issue, or something that had to be dealt with on the administrative level.
- “What job would you be doing if you weren’t working as a teacher?”
I already do it. I write and shoot photography for various publications. I’m an educational researcher and writer, and I compose music.
- What if a student told you, “My father said tomatoes are fruit.” How would you respond?
The tomato is the official vegetable of New Jersey, and the official fruit of Arkansas. I wanted to share a real life teaching example, but felt there was not enough time provided to answer the question. During an oceanography class I disclosed to students that there are high levels of mercury contamination in tuna, and as a result, it is unsafe to consume. The following day a student returned to class and stated that their father had said there was no mercury contamination in tuna. I provided the student government data on the topic to share with his family, and left it at that.
- “Have you ever given a student extra time?”
See response to the question above.
- “What if every student in class didn’t want to do an assignment?”
Teachers have curriculum they are required to teach, regardless of a staged coup. I’ve never taught a lesson that ALL STUDENTS didn’t want to do. These kind of questions are not based on realistic teaching experiences, and call for unrealistic responses.
- “What if a lesson didn’t go as well as you would have liked?”
I would reevaluate my approach to learn what I could do to improve on the topic the next time it had to be covered.
Finally, I was given time to ask questions. I had nearly two dozen prepared. Yet, after asking the second question, I sensed the interviewer wanted the matter over with. I didn’t ask any more questions. As I was saying thank you for… (your time), I was hung up upon.
That is how the third stage ended.
I was told after the face-to-face interview that I would only be considered as an emergency hire, and my application would be placed in the database pool only after “qualified” applicants were given first consideration. Qualified applicants are apparently new graduates with little to no teaching experience.
On March 13th, I received a rejection notice claiming my final interview answers were “less than satisfactory.”
My name is Jack Stone. I’m the father of a three-year-old child. I have nearly 20-years experience as a teacher and at the administrative level in both private and public education. I have a law degree, but loathe lawyers, and judges and that alone should rain multitudes of accolades upon me.
I’m looking for a teaching position. I’ve taught children as young as two, PhD holders employed by JAXA requiring security clearance, and in nearly every category in between, including elementary, high school, business, technology, law, and seminars
Jack Stone, a US citizen, is a Japan-based educator and writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org