AZTEC, N.M. (AP) — It was a cold Monday morning at C.V. Koogler Middle School in Aztec. Students stumbled into Shannon Albores’ history class and take off their rumpled jackets. After reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, they greeted their teacher by saying in unison, ‘magandang umaga!‘— which is Filipino for ‘good morning.’
Albores was born and raised in a city called Cebu in the Philippines. There she earned a teaching credential and started teaching kindergarten and elementary school. She liked it, but after learning of an opportunity to teach abroad — and with it, the chance to earn a higher salary — she took the opportunity.
Albores, along with seven other teachers from various parts of the Philippines, started working in the Aztec Municipal School District at the start of the 2019 school year to fill persistently unfilled vacancies at the school district, especially in special education departments in all grade levels.
“These are positions that had been vacant for seven years,” said Tania Prokop, the Deputy Superintendent of the Aztec Municipal School District, “luckily we found a local company to bring teachers here from the Philippines.”
That Farmington-based company charges fees to those teachers, and its owner said she keeps those fees as low as possible because she, herself, paid much higher fees when she came to this country years ago through another agency that charged her twice as much.
School districts, like Aztec, and others throughout the country have turned to an emerging international contract teacher industry that recruits teachers from around the world to teach in school districts throughout the country. One of those contracting companies, Bepauche International, has its offices in Farmington.
“Our pool of teachers can be 500 to 1000 teachers big. We’re ready and willing to fill vacancies,” said Cheryl Marie Maghinay, the co-owner of Bepauche International, via telephone from the Philippines, where she was on a recruiting trip looking for Filipino teachers to send to schools across the U.S.
Maghinay herself was a teacher, immigrating to the U.S. from General Santos city in the Philippines. She got her masters degree in education in the United States, and then taught in Antelope Valley, California, and then on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.