It’s not unusual for graduating student teachers to have butterflies before beginning the rapid-fire interviews at Teacher Interview Day. At this spring’s event, however, the increased competition for the limited jobs available kicked the stress level up another notch.

Elementary Education major Marcus Cornelius said he was nervous as the day began but quickly settled down.

“It went from nerve wracking to feeling like I was in my comfort zone,” Cornelius said.

New student teachers this spring were squeezed from both sides. Not only was this PSU’s largest group of new teachers ever, it also came at a time when state budget cuts made districts unable or unwilling to hire.

Jean Dockers, director of teacher education, said that although it has been a challenging year for new teachers, some jobs were available.

“Some districts were hiring, especially for graduates certified to teach in certain specific areas,” Dockers said. “Also, students who are not place-bound and who are willing to relocate always have better luck finding teaching positions.”

Forty-six school districts participated in Teacher Interview Day, a drop from previous years. Dean Howard Smith said he was grateful for those who came.

“There were some districts here who did not have any open positions at the time or were unsure whether they would have any this year,” Smith said. “We really appreciate these districts taking the time with our students.

The tight job market wasn’t bad news for everyone. One representative from a rural district with several openings said he noticed the difference.

“I’ve been coming here for several years and I think I’ve been busier this year than ever before,” he said.