GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – With many Kansas school districts still struggling to fill open positions, Garden City is attracting some new teachers from out of state, by promising them more creative freedom and flexibility.
“My husband actually got an interview out here and my first thought was ‘Why Kansas? That sounds like a terrible idea,’” said Sarah Drubinskiy, a teacher at Garden City High School.
The Michigan native quickly changed her mind after learning more about the region and the district.
“The administration is really open about new ideas and just giving you a chance to implement things that you want,” said her husband Yuriy Drubinskiy.
One of those new ideas is the robotics program, which the Drubinskiys started at GCHS.
“I had some students who were struggling in the classroom,” said Sarah, “but as soon as I got electronics in their hands, they were really making those good connections, and they’re like yeah, go for it. If you need some robots, let us know. We’ll try to find some funds for you.”
USD 457 relies on recruitment and retention strategies like that to fill their positions, but it may not be enough. Kansas ranks towards the bottom when it comes to teachers’ salaries, so recruitment is never easy, and there are 47 more positions to fill.
“We go to recruitment fairs,” said Roy Cessane, the district’s spokesperson. “This year we went to a large number, pretty much a record number. This year we went to 44 fairs in 19 different states.”
Half of the district’s new hires come from out of state. While many of them choose to return back home after a couple of years, the Drubinskiys have been here for more than five years.
“I definitely have a lot of room to bring in new technology and bring in new ideas and implement that in the classroom,” said Yuriy.
He says he’s able to use technology to help his students address local issues, like farming and water conservation.
“Initially it was, ‘This is Kansas. Let’s get a few years of experience and then maybe move on,’” said Sarah, “but we’ve really enjoyed it.”