In a landmark move, the Hawai’i Department of Education has made significant strides to address the ongoing teacher shortage, welcoming a record number of educators from the Philippines into their ranks. At the forefront of this initiative is Jennicah Reyel, a 26-year-old math teacher set to inspire young minds at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School on Kaua’i.
Reyel, who moved to Hawai’i from the Philippines, expressed mixed feelings about her new role. She conveyed great joy over her new employment opportunity but acknowledged the heartache that comes with leaving her family back home.
“My joy at receiving the job was immense, yet it’s tinged with a hint of sorrow as I bid goodbye to my family in the Philippines,” Reyel shared.
This year, Reyel joins 79 other Filipino educators recruited to teach in the state’s schools, marking a considerable increase from the 10 Filipino teachers hired in 2019. This rise in international recruitment comes amid an alarming national teacher shortage.
James Urbaniak, the Lead Recruiter at the Hawai’i Department of Education, explains why the department targeted the Philippines for their recruitment efforts.
“Teachers from the Philippines are often highly qualified and experienced, with many holding masters and doctorate degrees,” Urbaniak stated. “The country’s educational system, which uses English as the primary medium of instruction, has been an added advantage in our recruitment process.”
These foreign recruits can work in the U.S. for up to five years under a J-1 teacher exchange visa. As such, this international recruitment initiative not only aids in mitigating the teacher shortage but also encourages a diverse and inclusive learning environment.
The initiative by the Hawai’i Department of Education signals a significant shift in the landscape of American education, as more and more institutions turn to international solutions to combat the national teacher shortage. The recent rise in foreign recruitment may be the key to filling these vacant posts, further enhancing the diversity and quality of education across the United States.