For Carmel Clay Schools Assistant Supt. Thomas Oestreich, staffing the district’s campuses amid a global pandemic and sweeping quarantines is like solving “a complex puzzle” every day.
“Our principals are up late at night. They’re calling me, texting me and we’re talking early in the morning,” he said. “There’s a lot of problem-solving going on in order to keep school going.”
That puzzle has become slightly easier to solve in recent weeks with an influx of new substitute teachers who answered Supt. Michael Beresford’s plea for help. At the Nov. 17 school board meeting, Beresford said CCS was “extremely short” on subs and that not having enough of them could contribute to school buildings being forced to close.
Erika Frantz was one of 50 people to quickly step up as a substitute teacher after hearing about the desperate need. As a realtor, her schedule offered enough flexibility to spend a couple of days a week at Woodbrook Elementary, where her daughters attend school. She did not have any previous experience teaching a classroom.
“I saw a problem and thought I can be part of the solution,” she said. “We are all pulling together as part of this community to keep our schools open and support everyone who has tried so hard to keep (schools) open. I feel like we all need to look at it and say, ‘What can we do to help out?’”
Oestreich said an additional 25 people are registered to go through the next training for substitute teachers but that the district could always use more — especially during a pandemic. CCS requires subs to have at least 30 credit hours from an accredited college or university and complete a background check. Most subs are paid $75 a day.
Not only is Oestreich managing the recruitment and hiring of more subs, but he is also serving in the role himself. He and other administrators have filled in for school principals forced to quarantine.
“I think people forget that (district administrators) have (previously) been great principals and teachers, so anytime we have the opportunity to serve we love to do that. It’s been a positive experience,” said Oestreich from an office at Forest Dale Elementary, where he was filling in for an absent administrator.
Frantz said she was nervous before heading into her first day at school but that CCS prepared her well and provided a detailed schedule outlining her responsibilities. She hopes her efforts will provide peace of mind to the teachers she is replacing and encourage others to find a way to serve.
“Our community really needs us right now,” Frantz said. “This may not be your calling in life that you’re going to do forever, but there is a need right now for people to come forward and do this. There are a lot of people who want to help out during this pandemic but don’t know how, and this is a way they can do that.”
Learn more about becoming a substitute teacher at CCS at ccs.k12.in.us/services/human-resources/substitute-opportunities.