Initiatives Help COE Grads Gain Employment

The Arkansas Tech University College of Education is taking proactive steps to assist its students in finding employment after graduation.

Through the ATU College of Education Office of Licensure and Support Services, students have access to a Morpho fingerprint system that connects to the Arkansas State Police and meets one of the background check requirements for all prospective teachers. ATU was the first institution in the state to offer the service to teacher candidates.

“This allows students to obtain their fingerprints on campus without the need to travel to Little Rock or one of the educational service cooperatives,” said Dr. David Bell, professor of curriculum and instruction and director of the ATU College of Education Office of Licensure and Support Services. “Last spring, this service expanded to include alumni in need of fingerprinting to renew their teaching licenses. Recently, it has expanded again to assist any area teacher or administrator who needs this service. The area teachers have been very appreciative. This has allowed them to complete their fingerprinting without the need to take a half-day leave from school.”

Since the inception of the fingerprinting program in 2015, Arkansas Tech has provided the service to more than 1,200 students, alumni and teachers.

The ATU College of Education has also initiated a program called First Choice that seeks to create an open channel of communication regarding employment opportunities between school districts, ATU faculty and ATU students.

“Students completing their teaching internship have the option to sign a form that allows the ATU College of Education to share their contact information with schools,” said Bell. “This allows administrators in the public schools to contact ATU students directly, schedule interviews and offer contracts.”

First Choice also provides a mechanism for K-12 administrators to contact the ATU College of Education about specific vacancies. Faculty and staff at Arkansas Tech are able to respond with lists of eligible candidates and their contact information.

“The schools have been very receptive to this program, and it has allowed a number of our students to gain employment,” said Bell. “While most of the inquiries are from area schools, there are also requests from throughout the state and from as far away as Kotzebue, Alaska.”

Since the First Choice program began, the ATU College of Education has assisted 107 school districts with filling vacancies.

“Through the First Choice program, ATU’s College of Education has taken yet another leadership role in the state in providing a service to students and our public schools,” said Dr. Mary B. Gunter, dean of the ATU College of Education and Graduate College. “At a time when our public schools are challenged in finding teachers to fill vacant positions, ATU is working to assure that the availability of licensed teachers is known throughout the state and region.”

Visit to learn more about the ATU College of Education.

Photographed: Arkansas Tech University health and physical education student Jakob Clark (right) receives assistance from Teresa Auprey, administrative assistant for the ATU College of Education Office of Educator Licensure and Support Services, in making his fingerprints as part of background check requirements for all teacher candidates.

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