Courtesy: Michele Nelson
Friday, Jan. 30, 2015 | 2 a.m.
Are you a teacher? Do you want to be? Please come to Las Vegas.
That’s the gist of the marketing campaign launched by the Clark County School District this week.
Dressed as Clark Kent, Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky zip lined over Fremont Street on Wednesday to officially introduce the district’s "Calling All Heroes" campaign, which means to highlight teaching's altruistic element.
Normally marketing efforts don’t make headlines. But CCSD is facing a crippling shortage of teachers so severe it made sense to get a handful of district employees to dress as superheroes — complete with capes — and dance among tourists on Fremont Street Wednesday afternoon.
The campaign is the result of months of work by the district’s human resources department. They’ve had the tall order of filling around 600 vacant full-time teaching positions since the start of the school year, a number that could balloon to 1,200 next year.
“We tried to think of what was going to make our campaign stand out among other school districts,” said district human resources chief Staci Vesneske.
One obstacle in that process was that, like most districts, CCSD doesn’t have a marketing team. Instead, they’ve had to rely on an HR department made up primarily of former educators.
“We’re not salespeople,” Vesneske said. “But we’re learning to be salespeople.”
They also partnered with high-level consultants from companies like MGM, Caesars and Wynn to come up with a strategy that would reach the broadest group possible.
That’s important because with Nevada’s education colleges failing to produce enough new teachers to fill the state’s needs, administrators like Vesneske are forced not only to look to other states for educators, but also appeal to those who might not have considered a career in education before.
A new website, teach.vegas, is chock full of information on starting salaries ($34,684) and benefits (start teaching at age 25 and retire at 55), along with a link to Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky’s blog, called “Pat, personally.”
The website asks potential applicants what their superpower is, be it teaching students in the classroom, leading schools in administration or supporting the district by driving a school bus or doing maintenance work.
In the past the district focused on reaching mostly credentialed teachers. Their last campaign, called “Teach. Live. Grow.” assumed applicants were already licensed educators.
Now that’s not enough. With neighboring states like California and Arizona also in the midst of shortages, CCSD has to compete for potential teachers in addition to classroom-ready ones.
Recently, the district has heavily marketed its Alternative Route to Licensure program, which is designed to train applicants without licenses relatively quickly.
If that doesn’t entice them, Vesneske said, CCSD is pursuing local celebrities to star in videos highlighting a CCSD teacher who they considered a hero when they were a student in the district. They have already nabbed Dan Reynolds, lead singer of Las Vegas band Imagine Dragons.
“We’re really pushing ourselves to do and learn things that typically you don’t see in a school district,” she said.
“Apply today,” the website reads. “Cape included.”