OKLAHOMA CITY - School districts across the state are forced to get creative to fill a substantial teacher shortage.

In Edmond, school officials are taking a different recruitment approach starting with future educators, before they even graduate from college.

School districts have been struggling to hire and keep qualified teachers. But, for a second year in a row, administrators in Edmond are thinking outside of the box.

“We love to have the best and brightest in Edmond Public Schools,” said Edmond School superintendent, Dr. David Goin to a group of college seniors.

“The fact that you have more teachers leaving the profession and smaller pools of candidates coming in to the profession really squeezes the job market,” said Randy Decker, Exec. Dir. of Human Resources for Edmond Schools.

Decker and his team said they started brainstorming the idea of bringing a group of qualified teaching candidates together into one room.

So far, he said the approach has been successful.

“This gives those graduating teachers a leg up to be seen early on and to potentially maybe have a job offer maybe in the next month or two,” said Decker.

The district's newest school, Heritage Elementary opens in August. It has a number of positions that still need to be filled.

“This was a great idea to grab these Seniors before they have the opportunity to go out and do interviews,” said Edmond School's Dir. Of Special Services, Nancy Goosen.

Most of those interviews are out of state. Teachers are leaving for higher salaries.

“They can cross the border and make $14,000 more. So that is a concern,” said Goosen. “We have a huge shortage of special education teachers including the related services.”

Science and math are also difficult teaching positions to fill.

“The challenge finding that right person for the classroom is getting harder and harder,” said Decker.

Edmond Schools gain about 500 new students every school year.