They’re not called substitute teachers any more, at least not at Evanston/Skokie School District 65.

The district has changed the title to “guest educator,” and, in keeping with the new name, there is also a new pay rate … $150 per day, a sizable raise over the old $115.

District 65 held a job fair Saturday at the JEH Education Center, to fill 13 available long-term guest slots, and expand its roster of people to call on when full-time teachers become ill during the year.

Ashley Bias, the district’s manager of temporary staffing, said the hiring fair was “going great,” with a large number of applicants.

Between COVID-19 and related job-switching and retirements, finding substitute teachers, or guest educators, has been a challenge nationwide the past couple of years.

Higher pay, District 65 hopes, will attract more candidates.

However, many guest educators like Gail Welter, are not in it just for a paycheck.

“I like the new pay,” Welter said, at the Saturday job fair, “even though I don’t really substitute for the money.”

Welter is now entering her 14th year as a sub, following a career as a full-time teacher.

“If I was doing it for the money,” Welter added, “I’d be doing something else.”

District 65 is also looking for guest paraprofessionals ($120/day) and guest administrative assistants ($16.50/hr). One plus for paraprofessionals: the district is exploring a way such educators can earn regular teaching certification. It’s a work in progress, with details to come.

District 65 has moved the hiring of guest educators back in-house. No longer using a contract agency, officials said, will save the district a significant amount of money.

While most of the job fair was for guest employees, District 65 also was looking for permanent teachers, largely in hard-to-fill areas such as special education.

Assistant Superintendent Andalib Khelgati said that 99% of the district’s full-time teaching jobs are already filled, with a good chance of hitting 100% by the time school opens.

Twenty full-time teaching applicants were scheduled for interviews at the job fair.

Because some of those applicants currently have other employment, the ones Evanston Now spoke with did not want to give their last names.

However, “Meredith” said she was “looking for a better fit” with her job skills, and “Madison” said “I live in Evanston and I’d love to teach in the community.”

Principals and assistant principals from several District 65 schools were on hand to meet with prospective new employees.

“Our school leaders,” Khelgati said, “are championing this recruitment effort.”

When school opens for grades K-8 on Aug. 24, some of the people hired at the fair will no doubt be in place, either as full-time teachers or as guests.

And while the term “guest educator” may seem new, Gail Welter said it actually may have originated two decades ago, when she was a full-time teacher.

Welter said Don Michelin, then principal at Haven Middle School, introduced the phrase, which faded after awhile.

But now, the “guest educator” title is back.

“I like it better,” Welter adds.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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1 Comment

  1. I drove by a sign in front of a middle school in the Niles (Maine?) district advertising $160 per day, so the amount seems in line with going rate.

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