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Education

Black educators develop mobile app to make finding education jobs easier

On February 7, Black Males in Education St. Louis hosted the State of Black Educators symposium. Before the seminar began, educators were able to network with recruiters and with other people in the field.
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Black Males in Education St. Louis hosts the State of Black Educators symposium in February 2020. Before the seminar began, educators were able to network with recruiters. The group's co-founders aim to change that model with the EduOpenings mobile app and website.

Darryl Diggs Jr., principal of Hardin Middle School in St. Charles, is finding it hard to fill some substitute teaching positions.

To help connect job seekers to education jobs in Missouri, Diggs and Howard Fields III of Black Males in Education St. Louis, a group that helps Black people build careers in education, created EduOpenings. The mobile app will help fill such jobs.

The coronavirus pandemic is one reason for the shortage in education workers because some teachers and other professionals were afraid to return to work, Diggs said.

“If I'm experiencing this struggle to fill classrooms and fill positions, then I know my brothers and sisters across the landscape of education are experiencing the same, if not worse,” he said.

The St. Louis Public Schools district alone has about 120 open teaching positions, and a spokesperson for the district said officials are desperate for bus drivers.

Fields and Diggs received $20,000 from the St. Louis Community Foundation, and they each invested about $12,000 to develop the app and website.

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Andrea Y. Henderson
Job seekers can use EduOpenings to hunt for education jobs in Missouri. People can also use the app to find professional development opportunities and freelance work. Recruiters can upload jobs and professional development trainings.

Several school districts across the state have already posted jobs to the platform. People can find EduOpenings in the App store for both iOS and Google Play phones. Job seekers and employers can download the app for free. In January, people will have to pay to use it.

Diggs and Fields came up with the app after hosting an education job fair during one of the group’s seminars last year. They noticed that the usual job fair model of job seekers providing resumes to recruiters and quickly explaining why they would be a good candidate for the position wasn’t working for employers because there are still many vacancies.

“I do believe that some of the more antiquated models that we use and antiquated manners in which we on board people into our field, they're quite dated and they haven't changed for some time,” said Fields, assistant superintendent of human resources for the Kirkwood School District.

EduOpenings will simplify the process by allowing job seekers to fill out one application, which multiple recruiters can view.

The app will funnel applications to employers, so they can quickly hire, Diggs said.

EduOpenings also will allow job seekers to upload videos of themselves describing why they are the best candidate. It also lets employers receive three screener interview questions from potential employees.

“We wanted to flip the model where I'm not showing up, and I'm interviewing in front of 10 people from the same organization where there is pressure to acquiesce or assimilate into that culture,” Fields said. “I may show up in five, six, seven, eight different organizations there, and I'm in control to ask questions about their organization and why I should consider their organization.”

Recruiters and job seekers also can use the app to upload and find professional development opportunities. The app will also list freelance work opportunities.

"It gives you the ability to have a recruiting service in your pocket,” Diggs said.

Diggs and Fields hope that candidates will get job interviews while doing everyday things and that hiring managers may be able to find job applicants at their convenience.

“We're looking to disrupt the hiring and how we bring people into the field of education because I believe when you're looking at Gen Z and millennials, they are accustomed to having everything on their phone, everything right there,” Fields said. “We have to respond accordingly if we want to increase the number of individuals going into the education field."

Follow Andrea on Twitter: @drebjournalist

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