Teachers from Puerto Rico seeking jobs in Bay area schools

By Dalia Dangerfield, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, December 19, 2017, 5:33 PM EST

The impact of Hurricane Maria continues to be felt in Bay area schools. Along with the influx of students from the island into the region's schools -- 947 students in Hillsborough schools as of Dec. 14 -- teachers from Puerto Rico are also looking for positions in Bay area classrooms.

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Teacher Jackeline Rolon Quinones recently started teaching at Pierce Middle School in Tampa. She left the island last month.

"We were struggling in Puerto Rico, in the schools without power since Maria hit the island," Quinones said.

A lot of the students at Pierce Middle have relatives who have been hit hard by the devastation in Puerto Rico. Pierce Middle School principal Pablo Gallego Alvarez said he had a teacher vacancy and wanted to help.

"The population that we serve here at Pierce, between the students in Puerto Rico and the students from Cuba, make up the majority of our students, more than 80 percent of them, so we felt the need to help our families," said Alvarez.

Quinones said it will take time, but she knows this will be better for her family.

"It is different," Quinones said. "It is like the American dream, like we say, but I know my family and I will adapt and it's new opportunities for us."

Even more teachers have left Puerto Rico in search for work in Bay area schools. According to the district, there are seven candidates who could soon be interviewed for teaching jobs in Hillsborough County.