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Opinion: Hiring process in Jackson

Monday, August 16, 2004

If you have a question, e-mail factorfiction@semissourian.com or call Speak Out (334-5111) and identify your call as a question for "Fact or fiction."

Q: Is it true that the Jackson School District grants the opportunity for a teacher interview to all qualified and experienced applicants or just to a select few?

A: "You can't interview all of them. We have over 200 applicants for just elementary teacher positions," said Rita Fisher, assistant superintendent of personnel and instruction for the Jackson School district. "What we do is review the applications, looking at transcripts, student teacher experiences, or classroom experience if they have it, and references.

"Then we go through and arrange interviews, which depends upon the number of applications we received for the position. For example, elementary is our biggest core of like applications. We screen through those applications and set up interviews with a portion.

"All five of the school principles and myself are involved in the interviews, because of how the district is arranged, and because the teachers may move around. This panel also brings a lot of experience to the process.

"From there, we bring finalists back a second time before a final decision is made. When you employ a teacher, you may be making a decision about someone who will be standing in front of your kids for 30 years. We take this responsibility seriously."

Q: My grandchildren would like to find out something about the little old guy who does the Six Flags commercials. Basically, they want to know if that is an old fellow doing the commercial, or is it a young guy dressed up like an old fellow?

A: Your question is one of the hottest ones on the Internet right now as Six Flags is milking the mystery as much as possible. "The mystery is part of the fun," explained Michelle Hoffman, public relations manager at Six Flags Great America.

Not all officials are as tight-lipped, however. A public relations coordinator at another park told me, "He's a young man in his 20s." Then she double-checked the information and came back to say, "We're not really sure what his age is or what we can release." If I were putting money on it, I'd go with the source who says he's a young man in make-up. One thing is certain: The sprightly "Mr. Six" character has been a smash hit for the theme park.

Q: Is it true that Olive Garden is coming to Cape into the building where Dexter Bar-B-Que is now?

A: "That's a rumor that's been going around since we opened the doors, but it's just a rumor. Dexter Bar-B-Que plans to be here a long time," said Mike Rivers, manager at the Cape Girardeau location.

Q: A special-interest group is running ads that suggest President Bush is "helping to outsource jobs" to other countries. Did he ever say that?

A: No. What Bush has said is: "The best way to deal with job creation and outsourcing is to make sure our businesses are competitive here at home." The Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, a nonpartisan media watch group, addressed this issue in a recent report, which took aim at the group running the ad: "This ad simply misquotes him, falsely putting callous words in his mouth that he never uttered."

Jon K. Rust is co-president of Rust Communications. He can be reached at jrust@semissourian. com.

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Jon K. Rust
Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian and co-president of Rust Communications. He serves on the board of directors for the Associated Press. A native of Cape Girardeau, he has lived and worked in New York City, Boston, San Francisco and Moscow, Russia.