Arizona Republic
November 17, 2006

Author: Laura Houston, The Arizona Republic Estimated printed pages: 2

Before Joel Wisser even walks through the door of his second-grade classroom at Sunset Vista Elementary on Monday mornings, he knows it's going to be a long week.

It's his first year teaching, and Wisser easily can bank on a 60-hour workweek, thanks to staff development, parent-teacher conferences, training and class prep work. Oh, and teaching.

Orientation to this Michigan native's first teaching job was exhaustive. The week before school started, Wisser sat through one meeting after another, ranging in such colorful topics as insurance and classroom management.

When Wisser is in front of his second-graders, he's teaching to the individual.

Most of his students are English language learners. A couple don't speak a word of English.

Already this semester, two teachers quit their jobs at Wisser's school. The job wasn't what they thought it would be, Wisser said.

That's what worries Glendale Elementary School District Superintendent Perry Hill.

In his 16-square-mile district, most teachers have been around for three years or fewer.

More than 60 percent come from out-of-state. They've got to pay for and meet in-state certification requirements and pursue advanced degrees to qualify themselves for pay raises.

They must go to weekend classes on "structured English immersion."

"Teachers are pushed to the max. They're pushed to the max 12 months out of the year," Hill said.

Despite the struggle, Wisser knows he is where he wants to be.

"I've done a lot of different jobs, from retail to warehouse work," he said.
"Even the long days here, the kids give you hugs on the way out the door.
It's a lot of fun."
Edition: Final
Section: Phoenix Community North
Page: 5

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Record Number: pho157980733