SAD 17 looks to community for substitute staffing – Lewiston Sun Journal

PARIS — Oxford Hills School District is tapping one of its own partners, Oxford Hills/Nezinscot Adult Education, to recruit substitute staff as it continues to weather a long-standing labor crunch.

Last week 20 people attended free substitute teacher training at SAD 17’s Central Office, a two-hour orientation/exploratory workshop where they learned about the different opportunities to earn income and serve the community.

The next session is scheduled for Dec. 5 from 4-6 p.m., but Jill Knight, presenter and human resources generalist for the district, said she can schedule other training dates for interested parties.

While last week’s session focused primarily on substitute teaching, there are short-term and long-term temporary positions open throughout the district: ed techs, school and administration office assistants, bus and van drivers, custodians, food service and facilities.

The first step to joining SAD 17’s substitute staffing pool is completing a mandatory criminal background check and fingerprinting, at a total cost of $70.

Pre-employment information packets were distributed to all attendees. Materials included instructions for background checks, job application, IRS and payroll forms.

SAD 17 Assistant Superintendent Steve Ciembroniewicz explained that flexibility is a big benefit to working as a district substitute. Choices include which schools are the most convenient. Some facilities positions are for evening shifts. Substitute teachers and ed techs may decide if there are certain age groups they prefer to work with, although the wider the range the more opportunities for work there are.

For classroom assignments people often assume that substitutes have to always be ready to show up after receiving a 5:30 a.m. phone call, but Ciembroniewicz said that educators also need coverage for appointments and personal matters scheduled ahead of time. A substitute may fill in for a day or for a couple of weeks at a time.

Knight is a bright example of how substitute teaching can develop into a rewarding career with multiple opportunities. She started in the district as a volunteer back in 2000, when her children attended Otisfield Community School.

Knight had not volunteered long before she was recruited to become a substitute ed tech at the school, covering for an unfilled position. Her education qualified her to work as an ed tech at all three levels; once she acquired the proper certification she transitioned from substitute to full-time employee. She also worked with special ed students, on assisting on a special grant program over three years and then as a literacy specialist.

Eventually Knight transferred from Otisfield to become secretary for Oxford Elementary School. And this year she decided to take on a fresh challenge, joining Central Office as an HR generalist.

She said that from the start her colleagues throughout the district were supportive of her as she began as a volunteer and navigated different positions over the last 20-plus years.

People of ages and experiences attended the training. Several attendees already had experience teaching in other school districts. Other experiences varied from military service to private sector jobs, with a number looking to establish credentials in childcare and early childhood development fields.

Deirdre Fulton of Norway is a full-time mother of two students at Guy E. Rowe Elementary School. She attended the training to explore substitute teaching as a path to a career in education that aligns with her children’s needs and schedules as they move through school.


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