Making the move: French teacher recruitment pays off
There were a lot of people stepping inside Island classrooms for the first time last month – but it wasn’t only students.
“We’ve hired over 50 French teachers,” says Angie MacCaull, Human Resource Manager for the Public Schools Branch.
Earlier this year, the Province made a targeted effort to recruit French teachers to PEI after recognizing a shortage of French educators throughout Canada. Working with both the French and English school authorities, PEI made recruitment and retention of French teachers a priority.
“It’s a very competitive market, so we wanted to ensure we got ahead of things and started to actively recruit.”
Through a series of job fairs at universities and promoted job advertisements, the PSB was able to reach French teachers across the country – educators who can teach French immersion and core French classes at all grade levels.
“Out of the teachers we’ve hired so far, at least 25 per cent of them have come from out of province,” MacCaull says.
“These are qualified teachers that have been teaching for a number of years who decided to move their families here or move to PEI for new opportunities.”
Chantal Gallant is one of those teachers.
She decided to move to PEI from Alberta after seeing a job posting for French teachers on PEI.
“The biggest draw was to be close to my family, to watch my nephews grow up.”
Gallant has Acadian roots on the Island and says she wanted to cultivate those connections to her past.
“There’s an emotional attachment to PEI, to the history of my ancestors coming here.”
Gallant, who’s been teaching for 10 years, accepted a position as a French immersion resource teacher at Elm Street School in Summerside after interviewing for the job online.
She says the process – from interview to placement – was easy, with PSB staff offering support along the way.
“Everybody has been really great. I really feel like I’ve been embraced and welcomed,” Gallant says. “Everyone has been quick to respond to emails or any questions I have.”
That warm welcome was also part of what drew Daniel Tooker to PEI.
Tooker, together with his wife and young daughter, moved from Ontario to PEI in June after he accepted a position with the PSB teaching French immersion at Spring Park School in Charlottetown.
“We knew we wanted to move to PEI because we had visited several times,” says Tooker, who’s been a teacher for seven years. “Everyone is super friendly. What’s not to love?”
Tooker says learning and teaching French offered him opportunities he might not have had if he hadn’t learned the language.
“It allows you to have a deeper understanding of another culture, other communities – whether it’s here in Canada or abroad.”
Tooker, who didn’t begin studying French until Grade 9, says it’s never too late to learn the language.
“It opened up more doors,” he says. “Like getting a permanent teaching contract on PEI!”
Gallant agrees. As a French resource teacher, she says she looks forward to “opening up worlds” for her students.
“It’s not just words. It’s history. It’s culture. It’s traditions. It’s a sense of pride that students get from being able to do something that maybe they didn’t think they could do.”
She says she’s fortunate to have found the job with the Public Schools Branch and plans to make her career on PEI.
“I’m looking forward to buying a home and settling down. I’m here for the long run.”
Whether you’re at the start of your career or have years of experience, the PSB and the Commission Scolaire de Langue Française offer a range of employment opportunities with competitive compensation and great benefits.