Superintendent Insider: Specialized For Success
  • SSD Celebrates CTE Month®

    Posted by Special School District on 2/1/2023

    Special School District is the proud provider of career and technical education (CTE) in St. Louis County through the relevant, high-quality programs offered at North Tech and South Tech. During February, we join nationwide organizations in celebrating National Career and Technical Education Month®, a campaign aimed at increasing public awareness among educators, parents, students, policymakers, and employers about the value and promise of CTE.

    CTE programs spanning all career pathways, including medical, information technology, advanced manufacturing, transportation, public safety, and human services, are provided tuition-free at North Tech and South Tech to high school students in St. Louis County. Our programs include multiple certification and college credit opportunities while providing students with real-world experiences, real-world skills, and the exploration they need to determine their path after high school.

    Our generous business and industry partners offer field experiences, internships, mentoring, and employment to students, allowing them to explore college majors and careers before they graduate. Advance CTE reports that students in CTE programs and their parents are three times as likely to report they are “very satisfied” with their student’s opportunity to learn real-world skills compared to parents and students not enrolled in CTE courses.

    North Tech and South Tech continue to benefit from significant engagement and investment from regional employers who are building their talent pipelines among our students. This fall, SSD was proud to announce our most recent partnership with WorldWide Technology, which chose to establish its first high school-level apprenticeship program with our information technology programs. Our team of CTE supporters includes hundreds of companies, and many will join us at our St. Louis County Apprenticeship and Career Pathways Showcase events beginning Feb. 26, 2023.

    SSD will feature program videos and CTE facts that emphasize the value of career and technical education throughout the month on our Facebook and Instagram pages (@northtechstl and @southtechstl). Help us spread the word about the importance of CTE by liking and sharing our posts.  

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  • Recruiting New Talent in 2023

    Posted by Special School District on 1/9/2023 8:00:00 AM

    Public education continues to find its way post-pandemic. How we do almost everything has been transformed, including recruiting people for careers in our field. One story after another about how staff shortages are impacting schools nationwide - from not having enough bus drivers to making a move to 4-day school weeks due to not having teachers - districts are struggling to remain fully staffed. 

    The ‘great disruption” of 2020, as the pandemic’s impact on the world of work has been called, has resulted in a reckoning in hiring practices in every sector. Recruitment practices and attitudes about how we should do things have been deconstructed as employers recognize barriers to the hiring process. The most recent generation of college grads ranks fulfillment, equity-focused climate, and opportunities to grow in their careers as high as compensation. They look at far more than salaries when considering an employer, making the hiring market extremely competitive. And they expect a fast, customer-service-focused recruitment process. Getting the best talent to commit to your organization now requires flexibility, efficiency, and transparency, which pushes employers forward. Fortunately, SSD has a headstart.

    SSD began addressing employee recruitment and retention through the Human Resources Advisory Committee (HRAC) during the 2021-22 school year. SSD staff members representing divisions, departments, and various levels of leadership worked to develop a customer-service-focused model for human resources, resulting in the newly organized Office of Employee Success & Engagement (OESE).

    The OESE’s talent requisition and development branch now includes three recruitment and retention manager (RRM) positions and two recruitment and retention clerk (RRC) positions. This five-person team will lead our District’s efforts to attract a diverse pool of talented candidates for each specialized job that makes SSD such a unique place. With over 6,100 employees, we hire an average of 650 new staff members each school year. Bringing our recruitment work into a dedicated team was not just an intelligent recommendation from the HRAC; it was critical. 

    The RRMs and RRCs will report to Chief People Officer Phillip Boyd and be supported by Dr. Tonnette Harris, director of equity: HR, who will help ensure DEIA practices are embedded throughout SSD’s recruitment and retention practices. Developing and consistently improving our inclusivity efforts throughout the District is also a key part of our recruitment strategy - meaning it must be visible in our outreach, hiring process, and onboarding. In addition to collaboration between the OESE and DEIA departments, the Communications team is assisting with an audit of the messaging and channels through which we recruit.

    We are excited about the potential these changes all hold for the future of SSD. We have so much to offer new employees in terms of our benefits and salaries, and the rewards of seeing our students succeed are immeasurable. The OESE continues to explore additional improvements, benefits, and professional development opportunities for all staff. As we adapt to this new world of employee recruitment, I expect SSD to continue to be a pioneer in the public education space - discovering and implementing practices that clearly demonstrate how working here means being part of something special.


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