College students stepping in as substitute teachers in West Irondequoit

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WEST IRONDEQUOIT, N.Y. — West Irondequoit Central School District is utilizing college students and recent alumni to cover classes amid the widespread labor shortage.

So far, it has been working as a temporary solution to fill in gaps, but the concern is growing about what will happen when short-term substitutes like Emma Greco return to college in the next couple of weeks as winter break ends.

"I think that the schools are gonna take a big hit of loss of the college students who are coming in to help out,” Greco said. “I think that they’re gonna need a lot more support."

Greco is one of about a dozen college students that have been lending a hand during the break between the fall and spring semesters.

James Clements is another – he’s a junior at Syracuse University who’s hoping to go to physician assistant school after he finishes undergrad.

"Earlier this week I was teaching chorus, today I’m doing P.E., I’ve done social studies, English, so you get just thrown into all sorts of classes,” Clements said. "A lot of times I’ll be thrown a subject that I particularly don’t know a lot about."

For recent college grad Colin Shafer, who is hoping to pursue a career as a teacher, the labor shortage opened the door to job opportunities.

"Substituting seemed like the perfect start for me,” Shafer said. “And especially nowadays with such a high demand for it, it seemed like it was a great time to get involved."

The big question: What happens when the current college students go back? Assistant Principal of Dake Junior High School Nicholas Dimartino said when the college students leave, the district is considering shifting permanent staff members around to fill some of the gaps.

"We look at flexible positions that can be pulled from other areas. An example of that might be like a teaching assistant that is in the building for extra support. We could be able to pull them from one location to another,” Dimartino said. “But then that leaves us taxed because that’s a position that we view as vital to running our school."