Thursday, October 2, 2014


Where are all of the teaching jobs in New York?

Written By:  Levena Lindahl

JAMESTOWN, N.Y.-When meeting Genevieve Cooper for the first time, first impressions are of a confident and highly intelligent young woman.  Professionally dressed and well spoken, she is every bit the image of a young professional. However, Ms. Cooper is another statistic, a college graduate who cannot find a job in her field of Education.

 “I am twenty-eight and have a Master’s degree, and am basically unemployed.”  She stated wryly, face faintly resigned.
Ms. Coopers’ college education began in the fall of 2004 after she graduated as one of the top ten students in her class from Falconer Central School in New York.  She attended Jamestown Community College until 2006, where she graduated suma cum laude with an Associate’s degree in Social Sciences. 
To get her Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education, Ms. Cooper attended Fredonia State University in New York, and was awarded her degree in May of 2009, again graduating suma cum laude.  While at Fredonia Ms. Cooper was also a part of several prestigious honor societies; Kappa Delta Pi for history, Phi Theta Alpha for education and the Golden Key honor society. 
Finishing out her education with a Master’s of Science in Education in Differentiated Instruction, Ms. Cooper attended St. Bonaventure University and graduated with suma cum laude honors in 2011. 
With such distinguished honors, why hasn’t Ms. Cooper been able to find a job in the education field?  It certainly isn’t for lack of trying on her part.  She has been a substitute teacher for schools in the Western New York area since 2009, averaging between two and three days a week.  While her concentration is middle and high school social studies, Ms. Cooper will come in for any grade and seems to be most often in the third to fifth grade classrooms.
            She does all of her substitute work on top of applying to teaching openings and teaching swim lessons at the YMCA.   She also has a summer job at  Midway, a local state park.
“I apply for four or five teaching jobs a year.  It all depends on the cycle of teachers retiring and if the school plans on filling the position.  Social studies is not the best field for job openings.”  Ms. Cooper explained with a hint of frustration on her face.  “I interview less than I apply.  I have had…”  She trailed off, thinking.  “I have had four interviews, two in Brocton, one at Randolph and one at Frewsburg.”
            In addition to applying for teaching jobs, Ms. Cooper has also applied for a job as a rehabilitation aid and for the substitute position at Frewsburg. 
            “So, I have had one interview that got me a part time, per diem job.”  She has been working as a substitute for Frewsburg since 2010, and for Falconer since 2009.
            Not being able to find a job in her field is making finances difficult for Ms. Cooper, and she is not alone.  Hundreds of other college students are facing the same issues, especially when it comes to paying back student loans. 
            “About twenty percent of my monthly bills now are student loans.  I consolidated them into an income based repayment plan about a year ago which helped, because before that they were closer to eighty percent of my monthly bills.”  She looked over a small day planner, marked off with days she works and other notations.  “I worked out exactly how many days a month I needed to work just to pay my loans and bills.”
            Ms. Cooper uses her pay from her summer job to pay ahead on her loans, as she makes more in the summer and a substitute position isn’t steady work.  She also keeps her living expenses down by living with her younger sister in Jamestown.  Her sister, who has a doctorate in physical therapy, is another recent college graduate faced with massive student loan repayments.
            “It is incredibly frustrating, but I keep trying.”  Ms. Cooper will start applying for upcoming positions over the next few weeks, and the apply-interview cycle will start again.  Hopefully soon she will finally be able to use her degrees and begin teaching her own classes.


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