Our People, Our Success: Attracting Talent to SSD

Posted by Dr. Elizabeth Keenan on 1/12/2022

Happy 2022 SSD! I hope you rang in the new year healthy, happy, and well-rested. As many do at the start of the new year, SSD is looking toward our future and taking a closer look at the past year. Once again, we were evaluating a challenging year in which COVID-19 has continued to impact our work. As school districts pivoted from a school start in which we were feeling more confident to a December which looked sadly familiar, all who work in education were relying heavily on their patience, their flexibility, and their commitment to kids. 

The pandemic’s impact on staffing has been felt nationwide. A recent Education Week poll of school administrators found that 52% reported staff shortages were more severe now than they were just 4 months ago. And districts are finding it difficult to fill critical positions on which so many staff depend. 

Realizing our mission is made more challenging when these critical positions are vacant. And so, we put a magnifying glass on our recruitment strategies and hiring processes over the last several months to ensure we are doing all we can to attract and retain talented staff during this national crisis. Here are some of the things we’ve been working on:

  • Launched a collaborative effort, guided by employee feedback, to overhaul the hiring process for key positions.
  • Rebranded all recruitment efforts to highlight SSD employment benefits and intrinsic rewards.
  • Embraced new recruitment tools (Indeed, digital advertising, etc.) and developed a response plan to inquiries on those platforms.
  • Incorporated DESE opportunities for training and support to assist recruitment efforts (ex. Developing Teacher Aides Apprenticeship to Para program).
  • Utilized existing District Chamber of Commerce memberships to advertise openings.
  • Applied for DESE grant support to recruit new talent.
  • Ongoing reconstruction of “Working at SSD” pages on the website.

I’m happy to report that our efforts are paying off. Since August, we have reduced our paraprofessional vacancies by approximately 100 (and welcome to all of the new paras who have joined us this year!). Additionally, both our bus driver and bus monitor vacancies are decreasing and we have a healthy pool of applicants for each of these positions. We regularly monitor the success of our strategies and adapt them as needed.

We are gearing up for recruitment activities as the season for job fairs and college visits is upon us. But as we look toward meeting and welcoming new hires, I want to personally thank all of our staff for staying with us. Their work in SSD makes a tremendous difference to our stakeholders - and most importantly, to our students. Thank you!