In the following pages, Catalyst shares the stories of eight new teachers as they decide where to take their first jobs. Writer Grant Pick selected them from 50 he met at job fairs last winter and spring or through the Teacher Recruitment Initiative, a joint venture of the Chicago Public Schools and the non-profit Financial Research and Advisory Committee. The thumb sketches indicate their job decisions with the Chicago Public Schools.
For four years, Ed Davis played tailback for the University of Michigan; then was acquired as a free agent by the Detroit Lions. He was released after six months. Determined to teach, the Michigan graduate returned to school to earn his education credentials in high school social studies and speech. With his ability to coach, he was sure he’d get good offers.
Davis substituted in a Ypsilanti middle school last academic year, then submitted applications to the Detroit public schools, to two suburban Detroit districts and to Houston, Washington, D.C. and Chicago. Chicago struck him as a leg up from Detroit, where Davis grew up as the son of a Chrysler factory worker and a hospital clerk.
“Chicago’ll be a place where I can expand my horizons,” he said. “I also like the way they’re rebuilding the infrastructure of the schools. But it’ll be expensive to live there. On a teacher’s salary you don’t break the bank.”
In the spring, Davis dreamed of joining up at the Academy of Communication and Technology Charter School on the West Side. The school’s co-founder, Sarah Howard, “is the friend of a friend.” But it turned out Howard wants two years’ experience in her hires. Davis considered Detroit, though by the time he got his act together all the social studies positions had been filled.
Having no luck with Chicago schools at long distance, he packed up his belongings and drove west to search in person. He tried Hyde Park Career Academy. No luck. At board headquarters, Toni Hill, the director of recruitment, and a recruiter directed Davis to Taft High School on the Northwest Side, where he could finesse only a position supervising in-school suspension. “But I’ll be coaching freshman football,” notes an optimistic Davis, 26, “and hopefully I’ll get a classroom soon. It was a blessing the way it all happened.”