Virtual job fair deepens Monroe public schools’ roster of substitute teachers

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Assistant Superintendent of Schools Jack Ceccolini gives Board of Education an update at the board's meeting Monday.

MONROE, CT — A virtual job fair for substitute teachers attracted 26 candidates on Dec. 17, resulting in 10 new hires, as Monroe public schools strives to maintain a healthy level of staffing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Jack Ceccolini shared the good news in an update at the Board of Education meeting Monday.

“The diversity in the group is what impressed us all so much,” he said.

Among the candidates were college students, recent college graduates and retired teachers looking to return to the workforce, according to Ceccolini.

He said one woman had taught second and fourth grade in Gambia, before moving here. While pursuing her teaching certification, she plans to work as a substitute teacher to get her foot in the door, Ceccolini said.

“It was a real wide range of experiences and diverse backgrounds,” he said of the candidates. “Ten of the 26 people are in the process of onboarding and we’re hoping for more to come.”

Chairwoman Donna Lane asked Ceccolini if he thought all 26 candidates will eventually be hired.

“If we’re fortunate, it will be about half,” he said. “That is what happened with the first one.”

However, Ceccolini said some may go on to fill other roles. For instance, he said the district hired previous candidates as para educators.

This was the second virtual job fair this year. A third is planned for Jan. 28. “We’re hoping for a similar or better outcome,” Ceccolini said.

On Dec. 17, Ceccolini led the job fair interviews on Zoom with Sheila Casinelli, Jennifer Parsell, Lisa Peterson, Laura Maher, Lauren Mattis and Denise Sands. He said they broke into small groups, did a short presentation and made an effort to talk to each candidate individually.

The substitute teaching positions include flexible scheduling and compensation of $95 per day.

Though there have not been any serious COVID outbreaks in Monroe’s schools, Superintendent of Schools Joseph Kobza said a number of teachers have had to quarantine due to exposure, often from outside the district, making it difficult to fully staff the town’s schools.

“To pick up 12 or 13 subs in the district would be huge right now,” Kobza said.

“Oh absolutely,” Ceccolini agreed.

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