The Creed

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Is St. George’s Attractive to Teachers?

St.+George%27s+School+is+one+of+the+highest+ranked+schools+in+British+Columbia
St. George's School is one of the highest ranked schools in British Columbia

St. George's School is one of the highest ranked schools in British Columbia

Trevor Li

Trevor Li

St. George's School is one of the highest ranked schools in British Columbia

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Situated on the west side of Vancouver, St. George’s school has been ranked as one of BC’s top employers since 2014. The school employs over 200 teachers and many more staff. All of whom come together to build one of the best schooling communities in Canada.

The Creed was interested to see whether or not there is any attraction for teachers to come to the school. We were able to obtain exclusive interviews with the head of human resources Karen potter, as well as new associate faculty hire David Costello.

Although St George’s is regarded as one of the best employers, it is not without its own struggles when it comes to attracting teachers. For example, there are seven current job openings at the school; many of which have been vacant for a prolonged period of time. Despite Saint’s having higher pay and more benefits than the public system, the school continues struggles to attract teachers due to the high cost of living in Vancouver. To combat the issue of cost, the school has begun to offer a subsidized lifestyle to most teachers, even including housing for some.

“We’ve begun to offer many programs through housing, Translink and car-share to attract teachers to come to the school” Potter said. Some of these programs are limited, of course not every staff member is able to live in the boarding house; and that lifestyle may not be appealing for older teachers. Cheaper transit passes have been an extra bonus for teachers, but even with that to help the commute it is still not enough to attract enough teachers to fill the vacant positions. Seeing the problems with the transit system, Potter launched the new “St. George’s car-share program.” The new program will allow teachers travelling more than ten kilometers to share rides and receive funds for helping each other get to school. She hopes that the new program can make long commutes easier for teachers, and sweetening the idea with more cash could attract more teachers. Despite all of her efforts, Potter predicts that the school will continue to struggle to find teachers for at least the next five years.

She attends job fairs across Canada and has a massive online presence to help attract teachers, in the end the problem isn’t with the school but with the location. Even though Vancouver is one of the nicest places on earth, very few people can afford to live in the city; meaning St.George’s has to face problems other schools in other cities don’t have to.

First year teacher David Costello is one of the schools four associate faculty who are on two year contracts. All of which include some sort of subsidized living. Many of the associate faculty go on to apply for permanent positions within the school, and this is a reason as to why the teacher community is trending younger. Coming from Toronto, he has spent time at three private schools prior to St. George’s and jumped at the west coast opportunity when it came on his radar. He is one of the few teachers to receive housing as a house parent in the boarding house and he says “It was crucial” to him coming to the school.

“The school has been great in providing me with housing and subsidizing my living costs” he says in his interview, although he also stressed that he can see why the school struggles to find teachers despite their best efforts. Being a house parent is something he is passionate about and he appreciates the opportunity to be a house parent, as well as having a free place to sleep.

As mentioned before being a house parent is not an attractive option for many experienced teachers, so the school is unable to offer much in the way of residence for older teachers; leading to a young teacher community.

Despite the problems the school faces, and the expensive lifestyle of Vancouver. The school is still envied by outside teachers, and continues to hold an attraction as one of the premier teaching opportunities west of Toronto. The community has embraced all the staff and teachers, a fact that is well appreciated by Potter and Costello. Between the community and living in the nicest city in the world, both teachers are happy with their situations and hope to stay here for a long time.

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