30 days before school, RCSD is trying to fill hundreds of teacher jobs

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) – 30 days from the start of school and there are still hundreds of open teaching positions in the city school district. When News10NBC first told us about this a week ago, the number stood at 352.

Between our first story and today, the district says it made 100 job offers. At the RCSD recruiting event Monday, people got on-the-spot interviews and could walk out of the building with a job offer.

Inside the lobby of the Mercantile inside the Sibley building, I watched people arrive with that job interview look on their faces. A little bit of stress. A little bit of excitement.

After graduating from Saint John Fisher University and teaching in Virginia, Syracuse and Buffalo, Pat Carosa was applying to be an elementary school teacher.

Brean: "So why the city school district? Why this job?"

Pat Carosa: "I honestly like impacting people’s lives especially in the city school district, especially in the inner city. I like to help them grow and foster them into people that they want to be."

"They can come in, interview, and be hired, potentially, right on the spot," said Christopher Miller.

Miller is the chief of human capital for city schools. He was interviewing potential teachers today.

Brean: "Can the district guarantee parents that their child will have a full-time teacher in front of them on the first day of school?"

Christopher Miller, RCSD Chief of Human Capital: "We are working to ensure all of our classrooms are filled with a professional and a teacher on the first day of school."

The city schools need to fill all kinds of positions and all kinds of people showed up including a 32-year-old refugee from Liberia named Jenga. She got an interview for a job in food service. Jenga has a job but she has to take three buses to get to and from her job now. She struggles to read and speak English but her mentor is a former city school teacher and administrator.

"You think she’ll get a job?" I asked.

"Fingers crossed," said Patricia Hart, Jenga’s mentor, and advocate.

I talked to Jenga after her interview. It’s hard not to like her.

"Oh, I’m so happy to work with people and kids. I love people. I love kids," she said. "I love to take care of kids."

Jenga put her arm around Patricia Hart and said someone from the district was going to call her tonight with a decision.

"Well they should hire you because they would be getting something wonderful," Hart said.

While Jenga was in her interview, Nicole Washington was waiting for hers. Moments earlier — on a break from her regular driving job — she heard on the radio about the city school district recruiting event.

"The guy said don’t worry about how you look, just come down and fill out an application. We’re hiring on the spot," she said. "So I said, I looked in the mirror and said oh my God, look at me. I said – I’m still going!"

Washington is interested in clerical work or being a bus driver.

Brean: "And how does that feel?"

Nicole Washington: "It feels great."

Last year the city school district was so short of drivers, that some children didn’t have a ride to school on opening day. This year it’s only down 12 and the real problem is not enough teachers.

Brean: "Why do you think there are so many vacancies?"

Christopher Miller: "Well there are a number of reasons for the vacancies. Changing conditions in the fields of education as well as requirements to become a teacher. And COVID has had an impact on recruitment and retention efforts."

Miller said the shortage is nationwide but the city teacher’s union says it also got a record number of resignations this past year.