TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Many school districts are struggling to find teachers to fill the void of the teacher shortage in Arizona.
One rural Arizona school district searched the world to make sure its students had a teacher this year.
“Hello, I’m Kristoffer Viloria from the beautiful islands of the Philippines,” said Viloria in his native language.
Viloria is one of twelve teachers filling the void of the teacher shortage impacting the Mammoth-San Manuel School District in Pinal County.
“Education for me, to me is, is really a passion and a calling. So, whatever it takes,” said Viloria.
The shortage is nothing new for the school district, according to Superintendent Julie Dale-Scott.
“Sometimes it feels pretty devastating. You spend your whole summer just doing interviews, reaching out, going to job fairs, and sometimes you get nothing,” said Dale-Scott.
When she knew a dozen educators were retiring or leaving the district, she got creative— and says the new teachers will offer students a taste of diversity.
“Our kids don’t have a lot of experiences and we would like to offer them more. So, this is an opportunity to see and understand other people from other places,” said Dale-Scott.
As Viloria set up his classroom, he reflected on the rocky journey to the U.S.
When he and his colleagues arrived in Los Angeles, they found out they couldn’t take a rental car across state lines.
“It was really was a big problem on our part because we didn't know how to get here. So, it's a good thing that one of my former students knew that I [was] coming to the United States. She actually messaged me through messenger and offered her help,” he explained.
Despite the obstacles, he said he is on cloud nine about the opportunity to teach in Arizona.
“I’m excited about meeting my new students here and it's my first time to have special education in high school,” he said.
Superintendent Dale-Scott is grateful for him and the eleven other teachers who traveled to Arizona to educate the 530 students in the small town.