By Taylor Lunka ’15
PLU Marketing & Communications
TACOMA, Wash. (April 6, 2015)—Last year, Pacific Lutheran University’s undergraduate Education program achieved a 100-percent hiring rate, while the graduate program saw 90 percent of its students hired.
On March 17, 18 school districts from around the state and 10 non-district organizations came to the Education Career Fair at PLU, coordinated by Career Connections, suggesting the hiring numbers will stay high for this year, too. At the fair, employers offered PLU students on-the-spot interviews, full-time positions and letters of intent for next year.
Already, several PLU students have been offered positions at various districts.
Undergraduate Elementary Education major Danay Jones ’15 recently signed a letter of intent with her top choice, Tacoma Public Schools. She is in the process of interviewing for a position as a kindergarten teacher.
“It [the Education Career Fair] helps us narrow down what districts we want to apply for,” she said. “ I witnessed several of my colleagues get interviewed on the spot. I am so grateful for this career fair.”
PLU’s undergraduate program produces 40-50 teachers every year. Bree Van Horn, assistant director of recruitment in the Education Department, said employers look to hire PLU Education students because of the students the program attracts in the first place.
“School districts recognize the quality of our candidates,” said Van Horn. “They’ve had wonderful experiences [with previous PLU students]. If you want a teaching job right now, you can get one.”
At the career fair, school districts from Eatonville to Lake Washington and Bethel came to PLU for one thing: to connect with PLU Education students.
Dan Schlotfeldt, director of elementary education for Snoqualmie Valley School District, said even though his district isn’t as close as some of the others, it’s looking for candidates who are passionate about helping students reach their full potential.
“We decided to come to PLU due to its excellent reputation and a desire to have the best and brightest in our classrooms,” he said.
Even past Lutes came to scout out current PLU students. Krestin Bahr ’85, Superintendent of the Eatonville School District, came to the fair to represent her district and support her fellow Lutes.
“It gives direct access for them [students] to hear about the work that is occurring in the schools,” Bahr said. “This is especially helpful for rural small districts like ours.”
Next year marks the 120th anniversary of the university’s Education program. PLU’s undergraduate and graduate programs offer several paths for students, including an Alternative Routes program, which enables students from different majors—such as English— to work toward becoming a certified teacher.
Master’s of Education student Kim Ellithorpe ’15 thinks she made a great choice in choosing her program.
“The instructors at PLU have lived education; they have educated others, adults and children alike, and continue to learn themselves,” she said. “Their passion is infectious, and I am grateful for their time and the relationships they’ve built with me.”