See how Port Arthur ISD is reaching out to international teachers to enhance education experience

Published 12:38 am Friday, December 23, 2022

Leaders with Port Arthur Independent School District are continuing their mission to work with Spanish speaking international teachers to benefit students.

“To meet the needs for Spanish teachers, the PAISD contracted with Global Educational Concepts, which recruits internationally certified teachers,” Superintendent Mark Porterie said. “These teachers are part of the visiting international J-1 Visas Exchange Visitor Program approved by the United States Department of State.”

The district ratified a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nashville based company recently. The company provided a guaranteed platform that helps furnish certified international Spanish educators for the district.

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Leaders found this necessary to quickly address the student learning loss that was created by the pandemic.

The exchange visitor placement fees and application fees for five certified teachers comes to $37,500.

Porterie said numerous applicants were interviewed from Columbia, Honduras, Mexico and Spain, and teachers were assigned to Jefferson and Lincoln middle schools, Memorial High School and Woodrow Wilson Early College High School.

“This action has helped to combat the district’s shortage of Spanish teachers,” he said. “This innovative approach will save the district a significant amount of money for the 2023-2024 school year and allow students to explore multicultural experiences.”

GEC was responsible for a number of tasks while searching for the teachers. The company provided a customized search of qualified teachers, teacher pre-screening, document verification and legal assistance through the visa process.

The superintendent said the $7,500 fee for each candidate ensures that highly qualified, prescreened certified subject level teachers are selected for the district.

He said these teachers bring an international perspective to PAISD schools.

According to HR Exchange in association with Texas Association of School Boards, the pre-pandemic shortage of certified bilingual teachers has gotten worse through the years.

HR Exchange noted a University of Houston report that showed Texas has struggled to fill bilingual teacher positions since 1990 and foreign language and bilingual/English as a Second Language are consistently among the subject areas with the highest percentages of substitute teachers.