by Cheyenne Brown, Senior Editor

The Cobb County School District Educator Hiring Fair was originally scheduled to be hosted at the Smyrna Community Center. However, with the increasing pool of applicants, the event had to be relocated to John McEachern High School in Powder Springs.

With a larger space to offer a more comfortable setting for the candidates, The Educator Hiring Fair brings teachers to the schools rather than the schools seeking potential hires themselves. It also offers teachers the opportunity to apply for jobs and “the opportunity to talk directly about teaching and learning in the diverse, dynamic district,” according to the Cobb County School District’s Website Cobb Schools’ Hiring Fair Article.

Out of about 450 possible job openings, many in the special education field, teachers certified in special education were in high demand. More students with disabilities who live in the county are being recognized at an earlier age and because of their individual needs, they need specialized teaching.

“I am looking for a special education teacher who is highly qualified in this area, and one who really knows and loves kids with special needs,” Timber Ridge Elementary Principal Adam Hill said.

Additionally, parents are becoming more open to the idea that their child may have special needs and require special attention. Acworth Elementary provides inclusion classes, a class where two teachers work with a class mixed of special needs students and general education students.

“You can’t tell whose special needs and whose not, because they all look the same,” Assistant Principal Tawana Phillips-Taylor said. Parents are more open to these types of classes because their student is still getting the attention they need and are still able to mingle with their classmates.

Georgia offers many programs such as Babies Can’t Wait and Child Find Mandate, which help identify special needs students who may have behavioral problems, autism or other disability at an earlier age.

Public figures and professionals are beginning to talk about these special education issues more, and people are becoming more accepting of these students’ needs. Parents are realizing that having these problems no longer carry the stigma they once did, and students know that they are not alone in their challenges.

“We are also not letting students struggle as long because we recognize these problems at an earlier age, and this has increased the number of students entering the special education program,” Dr. Tracie Doe, Assistant Superintendent of Special Services, said.

Teachers are often pushed away from this position because of the volumes of paper work. Many administrators feel that teachers coming right out of college are not prepared to teach special education because of the inordinate amount of time spent completing required legal paper work and documentation.  Oftentimes, teachers are frustrated because they do not really find the opportunity to teach. Each student is required by law to have his or her own individualized education plan and several parent-teacher meetings.

With inclusion classes, special education students are responsible for keeping up with a curriculum that is the same for general education students.

“If you are a student in a special education class, your goal is to get a regular diploma.” Doe said.  “You are still held to the same standards as every other student in your school is.”

Recently technology has been given to the special educational departments to help meet the students’ needs to make them successful. They received software programs and other technological programs that will either read to the students or will help them develop their thoughts into words.

In hopes of drawing more teachers into this field, the Special Education Services reach out to colleges to find certified educators. Cobb County School District also offers opportunities for general education teachers to return to school for special education certification.

Currently, more support is being developed for special education teachers, and in an effort to retain these teachers, those support systems will be available in the local schools.