Hannibal School officials say now is the time to become a submarine | News
HANNIBAL — Hannibal’s Christina Zeiger works full-time as a realtor, but she also works as a substitute for the Hannibal School District.
Zeiger occasionally filled in throughout the district for about six years, but when Hannibal Schools returned to in-person learning in September 2020, she decided to make it a regular thing. She now replaces the secretaries in the office of Hannibal Middle School.
“When COVID became an issue, I wanted to show my support, so I offered to do what I could to help,” she said. “Allowing children to stay in school is very important to me.”
Zeiger is one of 58 substitutes in the Hannibal School District, but that number does not represent the number of substitutes available daily. School officials have reported an urgent need for more replacements.
“The district typically has 20 to 30 classes that a sub could be placed on any given day. The disease is driving that number up,” said Susan Johnson, superintendent of Hannibal Public Schools.
Hannibal Schools turned to virtual learning for part of last week when 70 district employees were away. Johnson said they were without coverage for nearly half of those absences.
Adequate coverage for classrooms and other positions not only keeps school going, but allows students to have a better learning experience. Without enough substitute teachers, classes are often combined or teachers substitute during their periods of preparation for other classes.
“None of these options are ideal,” Johnson said. “Conversely, when a school has quality substitutes to cover classrooms, teachers can focus on their own lessons and students have more consistency throughout the day.”
Zeiger said stress levels can get high in college when they’re understaffed, but teachers and staff are a creative team when it comes to covering positions.
“The college is very demanding and I’m amazed at how teachers and staff work together to meet the needs,” she said. “A lot of teachers give up their breaks to cover for each other and the office ends up doing the work of multiple people to make it work.”
Hannibal School District partners with ESS Staffing to hire contractors, who specialize in placing qualified staff in daily and long-term replacement positions for teachers and paraprofessionals.
If you’ve ever considered replacing the district, Johnson said now is the time.
“In addition to the Board of Education’s recent increase in the daily salary of substitute teachers to $100, the state has changed the requirements to become a substitute teacher in the state of Missouri,” she said.
Acknowledging that the costs associated with becoming a replacement could be a barrier for many, Johnson said the district also now pays for background checks on eligible individuals and required training courses.
Offering a unique opportunity to work in education with flexible hours and regular pay, substitutes choose the schools they want to work in and can work as many hours as they want.
“This makes it a great option for a wide variety of people, such as stay-at-home parents, retirees, artists and students. It’s also an easy way to add extra income for those with part-time jobs or rotating shifts,” she said.
Zeiger works in lieu of her full-time schedule as a realtor at Prestige Realty and said she finds support in both jobs. Prestige allows him to adjust his office schedule and his colleagues help him with the paperwork.
“My office at Prestige Realty supports me and allows me to adjust my office schedule and helps me with paperwork as needed,” she said. “College staff allow me to take phone calls when needed.”
She also said her clients were always accommodating when they heard she was helping out at school and offered to meet her after school hours.
“Sometimes it can be a long day, but it’s worth it to me,” she said, adding that she hopes others will consider replacing the district.
“I enjoyed getting to know everyone and I’m able to do something to help this unique situation that no one could have prepared for.”