Leon County hires more substitute teachers

Flyer distributed on Facebook to acquire interested participants. Photo courtesy: Oriana Plummer

The substitute teacher hiring process has changed drastically in Leon County due to the shortage of substitute teachers.

Leon County Schools on Wednesday held an open-interview mass hiring event for substitute teachers at the district’s administrative building.

Qualified substitutes must be at least 21 years of age and are required to complete a training course, have a high school diploma and pass a background check.

Participants were asked to provide the following:

  • Driver’s license
  • Social Security card
  • Blank voided check or financial institution statements for direct deposit authorization.
  • Two employee reference letters

Melanie Garrison, the event organizer and supervisor of human resources, said, “We lost more than half of Leon schools’ substitute teacher population at the beginning of the school year.

We had one school where all nine people in the front office were exposed to COVID and this increased absences quickly.”

A majority of the existing substitute teachers were advanced in age and retired educators. Many of them didn’t feel comfortable returning to classrooms because of the influx of students and faculty being exposed to COVID.

Garrison spearheaded the idea of hiring events while also analyzing other ways to fulfill the district’s desperate need.  The last two events she reached out to two principals so they could also reach more interested communities, Garrison said.

Parking-lot view of LCS offices. Photo courtesy: Oriana Plummer

According to WTXL, LCS’ goal was to hire close to 400 substitutes across the district to relieve existing full-time teachers and staff.

There has also been talk about increases in pay for substitute teachers to assist with retention.

At the previous three substitute hiring events, Leon Schools hired close to 300 substitute teachers, totaling 399 substitutes hired as of early November.

Many local participants like Michaela Dow took advantage of arriving early and completed the process in about two hours.

“There’s been a very high turnout so far. The hiring is almost immediate, as long as you pass your background check. Everyone has been really friendly and it’s all really easy for everyone to understand,” Dow said.

While Dow received an email about the event, many other participants learned about it on Facebook posts, bulletin board posts, and parent email lists.

LCS fingerprinting department located directly on the side of office. Photo courtesy: Oriana Plummer

New hire packets were prepared for all participants and those interested were able to complete the application and DocuSign process in person, rather than online. Leon County’s fingerprinting department assisted with running background checks and fingerprints after participants left their open interviews.

Felicia C. Evans is the executive secretary and substitute coordinator for Leon County Schools. Evans works closely with Garrison along with office staff, to ensure each participant receives accurate information and opportunities.

“When we’re bringing in positive and qualified subs, that is a great start. We can solidify their position at preferred schools. We like to have at least 10 preferred subs for each school, so there’s not a huge turnover exposing students and faculty to possible COVID-related health threats,” Evans said.

If you’re interested in becoming a LCS substitute teacher or desire more information, call the LCS office at 850-487-7100