LPS seeking top candidates like Cruz at Educator Interview Fair

Ody Cruz’s decision to come to the 2023 Lincoln Public Schools Educator Interview Fair has been exponentially beneficial for both her and the district.
Cruz has helped many Schoo Middle School students multiply their math talents this year. She has taught skills such as algebra and geometry to dozens of seventh- and eighth-grade Skyhawks. She said her time at last year’s inaugural fair confirmed her previous upbeat views of the district.
“I had always heard great things about LPS,” Cruz said. “I got my master’s through UNL, so I got to meet a lot of LPS teachers through that, and they always had good things to say. I was also very attracted by the math department. I just wanted to go to the educator fair because I wanted to see what LPS felt like, and I had a really positive experience.”
Erik Witt is human resources supervisor of secondary personnel services and director of recruitment at LPS. He felt the fair is an important piece of the LPS hiring puzzle. It provides everyone with a place to make good first impressions.
“We have a lot of applicants each year, so it’s nice to have an in-person interview,” Witt said. “We’re able to learn more about their foundational beliefs as an educator, and they’re able to meet us and learn more about what LPS has to offer. It really worked out well last year. We were able to hire a lot of great people because of the fair.”
This year’s Educator Interview Fair will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 20, from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Steve Joel District Leadership Center – the LPS district office. The school district is seeking certified candidates including teachers, school counselors, social workers, nurses, school psychologists and speech-language pathologists. 
Schoo Principal Ryan Escamilla said he was glad Cruz chose to attend last year’s fair. He said her knowledge and expertise have made her a strong classroom leader, and her warm personality has helped her form bright connections inside the building.
“Odalys has made an immediate impact at Schoo in both her passion for teaching and her high expectations set for herself and her students,” Escamilla said. “Odalys immediately fit into Schoo’s established school culture by arriving each day with the full expectation that she is going to make an impact on her students in their academic and social lives.”
Cruz excelled in multiple academic and extracurricular activities at Schuyler Central High School, and she was a Dean’s List student at the University of Nebraska-Kearney. She taught junior high math outside Lincoln for five years and became respected for her abilities. She received the 2020 Nebraska Association of Teachers of Mathematics (NATM) Rookie of the Year Award for her efforts.
Cruz began working on her master’s degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln during the pandemic, and she became interested in the job opportunities available at LPS. She said her visit to the fair made a major impression on her. She knew at that point that she would accept a job offer at LPS.
“The recruiting director greeted me by name, which I thought was really cool, and then I had a really great interview with one of the middle school principals,” Cruz said. “He answered a lot of my questions and he seemed really happy to be there.”
Witt said he had many similar experiences with top-notch candidates like Cruz at the 2023 fair. The interview list included veteran educators from other school districts, student-teachers looking for their first job and out-of-state residents interested in moving to Nebraska. Zoom interviews are an option for candidates living far away from Lincoln.
“We had people with a wide range of life experiences last year, which was exciting,” Witt said. “It was fun to meet them and learn all of their stories. They were all high-quality people.”
Cruz said it has been rewarding to work with Schoo students, parents and staff members. She was the only seventh-grade math teacher in her former district, but she is part of a four-person team in grades 7-8 at Schoo. She enjoys leading math classes because of the valuable life lessons contained in them.
“I like that there is no right way to do it,” Cruz said. “It’s like an art and a science. Kids come in and they might have negative experiences with math, and my goal is to try to give them a positive experience. I like that it’s all about solving problems, and it teaches kids to persevere. I always liked math as a kid, so I like teaching it too.”
Cruz encouraged people to explore LPS job options during this year’s fair. She said they would have an exponential number of positive experiences waiting for them.
“I would say that if you are looking for a progressive district, or a district that is always trying new things or a district that is organized, then come to LPS and see if it’s the right fit for you,” Cruz said.

Interested candidates for the upcoming Educator Interview Fair must apply by Sunday, Feb. 18, to reserve an interview slot. For more information, click here.
Do you have a story idea? Share it with the LPS Communications Team by filling out this form!

Published: February 14, 2024, Updated: February 14, 2024

Ody Cruz smiles at the beginning of one of her math classes at Schoo Middle School. Cruz joined Lincoln Public Schools this year after attending the 2023 Educator Interview Fair. LPS leaders hope they have a large number of applicants for the 2024 fair, which will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 20.