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Bethel Advance Helps Prepare Future Teachers for the Job Market

Bethel's education department is bringing administrators from metro schools to Bethel to interview graduating education majors and give them tips for how to set themselves apart in the job market.

By Jason Schoonover ’09, content specialist

May 08, 2019 | 9 a.m.

Bethel Advance

Students listen to an April principal panel that brought seven current and former administrators to Bethel to share job-hunting tips. The program was part of Bethel Advance, an education department effort to connect students to industry partners and empower them in their job searches.

Kelly Whitsell almost didn't sign up for an interview with DaVinci Academy during a Bethel Advance event. After all, she was familiar with the school and administrators because she was student teaching there. But then she decided to sign up to show her seriousness about applying to a full-time job. It paid off: The school offered Whitsell a second-grade teaching position.

That’s just one success story from Bethel Advance, an effort by Bethel’s education department to prepare students for their job search and connect them to industry partners. But it also provides benefits to partner schools by giving them a first look at Bethel students. Along with the interviews, Bethel Advance also hosts a principal panel where administrators share job-hunting tips with Bethel students. Both events happened at Bethel this spring, but the department plans to host future principal panels each fall and interviews each spring.
Bethel Advance

More than 25 Bethel education students attended a principal panel in April. The current and former administrators on the panel offered many tips for the job-hunting process. They suggested telling concise personal stories in interviews to reflect on their experience and motivation.

Adjunct Professor/Placement Coordinator Becky Carlson says the effort walks students through their first interview experiences—which can be intimidating—within the security of Bethel’s campus. The interviews on campus allow students to receive feedback from staff, the administrators, and other students, who share about their answers, questions, and more. “They’re really learning from one another how to be best prepared for more interviews,” Carlson says.

Administrators suggested Whitsell share personal stories and experiences in interviews to show how she’s grown and connected with students. “Any candidate can give a robust answer, the cookie cutter answer, but when you use personal stories, that shows that you have actually fulfilled those things and seen students grow and learn—and you’ve had a part in that,” Whitsell says.

At the principal panel in April, administrators echoed that advice to about 25 education students. John Glenn Middle School Principal Jessica Cabak ’08, GS’17 said concise stories reflect on a candidate’s experience and motivation, and good stories can also set someone apart from other candidates. “When I’m looking at my list of eight candidates and thinking back through my interviews, I’m going to think about what story did you tell for some of your answers,” Cabak says.

Bondo Nyembwe

Bondo Nyembwe, executive director of Academia Cesar Chavez, drew laughter from Bethel students as he gave them advice, noting he often likes to have a little light-hearted fun with job candidates who are visibly nervous. He also told students to be prepared to give feedback on a school’s website, which he uses to test if a candidate has researched his school.

The principals also stressed the importance of fit, and they urged the students to know the school’s vision and mission before an interview. On one hand, it’s about being prepared. Bondo Nyembwe, executive director of Academia Cesar Chavez, often asks candidates to give feedback on the school’s website to test if they’ve researched the school. But often, administrators say a hire comes down to finding the candidate that best fits the school and its mission. On the flip side, administrators urged students to ask employees questions to learn about the school—like how long they’ve worked there and what they like to learn about the culture. “You are interviewing us as well,” Cabak says. “You are trying to see if you’re the right fit for our building.”

It's important for a candidate to stick out for the right reasons, as actions and attire can lead principals to disqualify a candidate. The panel shared stories about candidates acting rudely to staff before an interview or wearing questionable clothing—leggings, tennis shoes, and flip-flops. “Those details, we do notice them,” Legacy Christian Academy Principal Shawn Lohse GS’14 says. She cautioned the future teachers to be conscious of what they share on social media. “As soon as you apply, if I’m excited about your resume, I do a deep creep,” Lohse told the students. “If I can find it, the kids will find it.”

As Carlson transitions students from “backpack to briefcase,” she prepares students for how to dress and act while student teaching and as first-year teachers. Even if tenured teachers dress in a sweatshirt and jeans, Carlson says it's important to make a positive impression. “We remind them: ‘Every time you’re in the school, you’re in a job interview,’” she says.

Bethel Advance

Students listen in and take notes during a Bethel Advance principal panel, which brought seven current and former administrators to Bethel to provide advice for students’ job searches.

Carlson often tells her students that their work carries weight—it affects Bethel’s and the department’s reputation. And that reputation is strong, as Carlson says administrators frequently tell the placement staff that Bethel students live out Bethel’s commitment to excellence. And Carlson says teaching is a mission and a passion for Bethel graduates. They talk a lot about praying for their kids and making sure their classroom is a safe place for students.

Whitsell praised the department for helping students prepare for their career. Along with hosting Bethel Advance events and preparing them to enter the job market, the department also supports students through the process of becoming a licensed teacher and helps them organize documents and scheduling. “It just shows that they’re supporting you and encouraging you and willing to help out,” Whitsell says.

Study Education at Bethel.

Bethel’s Department of Education prepares teachers who will inspire the next generation. The department promotes cross-disciplinary learning that helps students combine their passions, and it stresses real-world experiences in a number of diverse settings to ensure student success. The department integrates faith in Christ into its work to prepare teachers who view education as a mission field where they can lead and serve in incredible ways.

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