Landing a Teaching Position in New Jersey

This month, we wanted to share best practices and insights for our teaching candidates on how to find the perfect school and teaching position for their career goals. To find out what schools are looking for in a new teacher hire, we interviewed several education professionals who represent partner schools included in the Diverse Teachers for Diverse Students (DTDS) initiative, coordinated by Rutgers Alternate Route. The DTDS program’s mission is to increase representation of black and Latinx teachers in K-12 classrooms, creating better outcomes for students of color and greater diversity in the teaching force. Read on to learn more about our partner schools and how to stand out in the job application and interview process to increase your odds of getting hired as a teacher.

Land a Teaching Job

Thea Heninger-Lowell – Director of Operations, Philip’s Academy Charter School of Paterson K-2

What do you look for in a new teacher?

Our school opened in 2016 and is very much a startup, so we look for someone who is really comfortable with some ambiguity and is able to keep a focus on the individual student while being comfortable knowing that things will continue to evolve in the school environment. We look for someone who is excited about the opportunity that change will bring and is willing to wear different hats, jump in, and take on various challenges. Over the next six years we’ll be adding an additional team of teachers annually, so the staff will continue to grow.

What’s it like to teach at your school?

Because of the nature of being a public charter in Paterson, we have a very diverse student body and the school’s culture focuses on that diversity. This year we have a staff-wide book club where we’ve read “For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood... and the Rest of Y’all Too” and “Lost At School” about working with students with behavioral challenges. We consider diversity through a lens of intersectionality and use that to inform how we address student behavior. We take pride in meeting students where they are to best support their learning and growth.


Daniel Carhart – School Director, Passaic Arts & Sciences Charter

What do you look for in a teaching candidate?

A lot of people are going to say that they’re looking for mastery of content. That’s important to a degree, but not our priority in hiring. What I’m looking for is what we can’t coach. I want to hear about making connections and forming positive relationships with students. If you don’t value that, then this probably isn’t the place for you. I want to see that the candidate is there for the kids.

Any tips for a candidate applying?

When I’m looking at a resume, I want to see variety, like you coached track or led a play. I’m looking for a teacher who wears many hats. We all wear many hats at this school in service of our students and in service of our community.

When you come in, have a positive attitude – an attitude that you are willing to take on additional responsibilities outside of your classroom. You’re applying to be a part of our community at-large. I like to go into interviews fresh and see who you are in the interview. I’m trying to see what your belief is in the students and in education. Be an open book: you’re a teacher, but you’re a person, too.


Daisy Marte – Talent Manager, Community Charter School of Paterson

What is it like to teach at your school?

We’re an extremely community-involved school. We have a ton of initiatives for students to become not only great students, but for the community to thrive. We have a supervisor for each department and ample services for our students on a social- and emotional level. We have longer hours as a charter school, but that equates to our success.

Our students are extremely diverse, a beautiful mix of population of students and staff. We are LGBT-friendly and we really try to build as high a diversity as possible. People can learn more about our school on our Instagram account @ccspnj.

What do you look for in a teaching candidate?

What’s most important to me is someone who is dedicated to the urban education cause. Someone who views charter school work and nonprofit work as different. Also we want to be as strongly diverse as possible because that’s a culture that we really try to embody. We’re also looking for someone who is dynamic in their style of teaching, is a proper culture fit for the school, has strong classroom management, is open-minded, wants to make a difference, and knows the content.

Any tips for a candidate applying?

I always recommend candidates learn Teach Like a Champion techniques. It’s been really effective in our schools for culture and classroom management. The content comes, but the classroom management will be the first year struggle and these techniques helped me learn a lot.

Research the curriculum on the website. Come in knowing a little about the topic to demonstrate to us that you can learn the curriculum at a high level.

Make sure that your lesson is engaging, especially when the lesson may be challenging. We look for not only someone who can go up and teach, but someone that the kids will want to listen to. We want to evoke a joy in learning in the students.

Now that you’re equipped with some advice on landing the perfect teaching job, head over to our jobs roundup blog post for a selection of opportunities from our DTDS partner schools!

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Heather Ngoma

Heather Ngoma has over 20 years experience collaborating with educators across New Jersey to drive education innovation. She currently serves as the Director of Rutgers University's Alternate Route Teacher Training Program at the Center for Effective School Practices, a program which helps career changers, recent college graduates and other aspiring education professionals become licensed teachers in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter @heatherngoma.