News - Recent Greenville Grad Chosen From 500 Applicants for Elementary School Position

Recent Greenville Grad Chosen From 500 Applicants for Elementary School Position

Recent Greenville Grad Chosen From 500 Applicants for Elementary School Position

If A Master's Guide to Successful Treasure Hunts is ever written, rule number one will be, "Have Rachel Vanausdoll lead the search." Rachel received her teacher certification in the spring of 2012 and promptly engineered a job search that led to a prized teaching position five months later. How prized? The job posting drew 500 applicants in just 24 hours. Rachel emerged victorious and now commutes daily to work she treasures.

Rachel teaches fifth graders math and social studies at Jamestown Elementary School in suburban St. Louis. The school, part of the Hazelwood School District, serves about 400 students from kindergarten through fifth grade. "My heart was drawn to areas of need and diversity," explained the young teacher, "Hazelwood offered both."

Rachel transitioned from college student to job seeker after her graduation from Greenville College in December 2011. She participated in the College's Undergraduate Teacher Education Partnership (UTEP) program with Lewis & Clark Community College and earned her bachelor's degree in elementary education.

She had targeted the Hazelwood School District early in her search as an ideal fit for her desires and dreams. "I constantly checked Hazelwood's website for job openings and applied for all of them, from sub to educational assistant and teaching jobs." At the same time, she applied for jobs in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, Missouri, and Illinois. "I was ready to go anywhere God opened the doors."

School districts increasingly employ online hiring processes that can prove challenging for first-time teachers like Rachel. By broadcasting job openings to a national pool of job seekers, the online process greatly expands the competition for each position. Online hiring also allows districts to easily filter out applicants with little experience. "Many times schools preferred to hire someone with experience over someone like myself who was brand new," said Rachel. She secured about eight face-to-face interviews, but in each instance the hiring district chose a more experienced candidate.

"Summer was winding down. I started to come to terms with the fact that I was not going to get a teaching job this school year," she confessed. Then the opening with Hazelwood School District appeared briefly - only 24 hours - online, and she applied.

Rachel interviewed for the position just three days before the start of the school year. She accepted an invitation to return on opening day to teach a math lesson to fifth graders. Three others - the school's principal, a reading specialist, and an instruction specialist - also observed the lesson. An hour later, Rachel received a phone call offering her the job.

Rachel credits her college professors for helping her prepare for the interview. "I sent my lesson plan to two of my professors and asked for their critiques. They promptly responded and had great encouragement and feedback. Even though I had been out of their classes for almost a year, they were eager to support me."

As a participant in the UTEP program, Rachel received her associate of arts degree from Lewis and Clark Community College and her bachelor's degree from Greenville College. All of her classes were taught on the Lewis and Clark campus. Rachel liked that her education instructors possessed a wealth of real world experience as either principals or classroom teachers. She also liked the small size of her UTEP classes, a feature she has incorporated in her own classroom by meeting with students daily in groups of five and six.

"I love that personalized instruction time and seeing the 'ah-ha' light bulb moments personally. I enjoy seeing the heart of each student, what makes them who they are."

Job coaches might point to Rachel's model search strategies, persistence, and thorough preparation for successful pursuit of a job, but she credits a different influence. In addition to seeking prayer support from close friends, she held on to a promise from Psalm 34:7, "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart."

"I knew God had created in me this desire to be a teacher," she says. "I knew His timing was perfect and he would get me through this." In the end, the greatest treasure for Rachel Vanausdoll is knowing that she is doing what she was meant to do. And, about 75 fifth graders at Jamestown Elementary School share that treasure every day. 

This story was published on October 12, 2012

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