MANSFIELD – The North End Community Improvement Collaborative and Ohio State University Mansfield Campus will be co-hosting two workshops for prospective substitute teachers in Richland County.
The workshops will take place Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. and Feb. 17 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the NECIC office, located at 134 N. Main Street in Mansfield. Both events are free to community members.
A light lunch and childcare will be provided during the Saturday session.
The sessions are being jointly organized by Ashley Smith and Terri Bucci of OSU Mansfield, and Crystal Davis Weese of NECIC.
The trio hopes the workshops will encourage and prepare community members to substitute teach and possibly continue on in the field.
“We’re not trying to throw warm bodies in,” Smith said. “That’s what I hope that people really understand — that there was a strategic plan with this.”
As a former intervention specialist and mother of three young students, Smith was well aware of the need for substitute personnel. So she partnered with Bucci and Weese, who were already working on initiatives to get more minority educators and people of color interested in education careers.
Smith surveyed administrators from Richland County’s nine public school districts. Seven responded, offering insight into what schools need most from their substitute teachers.
Superintendents stated that training on professionalism and handling student behavior would be most helpful, followed by teaching strategies and technology.
The training sessions will be guided by that feedback, with segments on mindfulness, trauma informed care and difficult conversation, anxiety and empathy and inclusive practices.
Participants will also receive practical resources and support for one of the biggest hurdles — the process of getting a substitute teaching license.
“The Ohio Department of Education and their forms and structures are a labyrinth that people have to try to survive,” Bucci said. “Part of what we’re trying to offer both this Saturday and in a continuing way is a professional learning community.”
NECIC is also collecting donations to reduce financial barriers for would-be substitute teachers.
According to the workshop team, it costs about $250 to becoming a licensed substitute teacher. This includes the cost of a background check and licensure fees.
NECIC recently assisted one woman who had a job offer from a local district, but couldn’t afford the background check.
Davis Weese said costs may deter otherwise willing individuals from substitute teaching.
“There have been certain phases of my life being a divorcee and a mom, if $250 had to come out of my pocket to start a job, I might have interviewed with someone else,” she said.
Additional workshops have yet to be announced, but the women behind the initiative hope to offer more programming for substitute teachers in the future. They also hope to create a support network for substitute teachers and those who may go on to pursue a full-time career in education.
“We have the people in Mansfield; we have people who are passionate, who want to have a positive effect on this community. They just need to know how to start and this is a place to start,” Bucci said.
She added that the team behind the workshops plans to stay connected with workshop participants and continue to offer support and training if necessary.
“We’re going to have touch points with them after Saturday, so it’s not like a one-and-done,” she said. “We’ll have some times where they can connect back with each other and with us.”
Davis Weese hopes the program will expand to continue supporting local educators from a variety of backgrounds.
“We would love to have this pipeline where we are putting more teachers of color, minority teachers into the school systems all the way around,” she said. “All the research has told us for years that students do better with someone who looks like them, in a community that wraps itself around the educational piece.”
To register for a workshop, email email@example.com or call 419-610-1587.