Rochester School Board candidate Liz Hallmark rightly and singularly sees substitute teachers as a rich and untapped resource

Rochester School Board candidate Liz Hallmark rightly and singularly sees substitute teachers as a rich and untapped resource
with Liz

Elizabeth Hallmark and myself at the South Wedge Farmer’s Market. See “See Your Future Experience:” RIT and Charlotte complete innovative mentor program.

• September 8, 2015

I first met Liz Hallmark when we collaborated on a post during her time as assistant director of an RIT/Charlotte partnership. I saw Liz both successfully manage a substantial project and interact wonderfully with RIT and Charlotte students.

“See Your Future Experience:” RIT and Charlotte complete innovative mentor program.

I also learned about Liz’s impressive academic background and vast teaching experience. With a Doctorate in Education (arts-integrated curriculum design), Liz has taught students from Pre-K through graduate-level in over 20 area schools. Currently, she teaches student teachers at Nazareth College and the University of Rochester.

Liz’s teaching background alone, by far the most extensive of any candidate, uniquely qualifies her for your vote on Thursday.

But something else about Liz’s candidacy recently caught my attention — and should yours.

The other day at the South Wedge Farmer’s Market, Liz and I were discussing ways to make city schools better. Having done my fair share of substitute teaching in the District, I was immediately impressed that Liz–unsolicited–talked in depth about a rich resource waiting to be fully tapped: the District’s hundreds of highly qualified substitute teachers many of whom have decades of experience and are experts in their fields.

As elaborated by Liz:

There are many per diem teachers in the district who aren’t being used or developed the way they could be. First of all, stability is key to improving the school climate. When we work to better connect those folks who teachers must occasionally depend on, we strengthen the whole school building. Ideally, administrators make sure that per diem teachers have opportunities to meet staff and faculty outside of immediate calls for duty. They  work to develop a committed pool of well-known and well-regarded per diems for their building.

We must make sure there are easy, clear means of communication available between teachers and per diems. Per diems should have access to larger teacher planning so they can provide the most seamless partnerships. It also means finding ways to develop and extend per diem teachers’ relationships with students beyond the classroom so students become comfortably familiar with them.

Also, for per diems interested in more full-time work with the district, we should be tracking their success and impact by providing opportunities to document their work and include student input if relevant. With enough documented classroom work that shows success and impact with students, there should be ways to fast-track this work toward teacher certification.

Overall, substitute teachers do not feel unfairly treated by the District. The substitute management division does a very good job in often trying circumstances. But substitute teachers (or Guest Teachers, a term I prefer) do feel frustrated when their experience and expertise go unused. What they lack is an advocate ready to spread awareness among administrators and teachers.

At first glance, a plan to tap the unlocked potential of these hundreds of substitute teachers may seem relatively minor. But it says a lot about Liz. She is the only candidate to even address the issue, and the result is an informed and carefully considered blueprint for success. Liz sees opportunity and offers solutions.

Not living in Rochester, I can’t vote for Liz. But on Thursday, you can.


Substitute teachers in the RCSD are a rich and untapped resource

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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