Collier County Public Schools looking for guest teachers and part-time teachers

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen
Published: Updated:
Collier County school classroom
FILE: Kids in a school classroom. (CREDIT: WINK News)

There is a struggle to fill substitute teaching positions in a Southwest Florida school district and COVID-19 is making it worst.

The Collier County School District put a call out for anyone in the community to help.

In order to qualify, you must be 20 years old and have an associate’s degree or higher.

You don’t need a teaching certificate.

The school district hopes more of Collier County’s retirees and snowbirds will consider becoming a guest teacher because the pandemic is causing sudden and long staffing shortages.

The need for guest teachers comes as omicron continues to batter Southwest Florida.

On Tuesday, several Collier County teachers were out sick. Every one of them had to burn through their own personal and sick days to be able to be out. The school district said it is in the process of negotiating a COVID relief payment to offset ant impacts.

“If a teacher has to go out for quarantine or having COVID, they should be reimbursed. That’s a big concern for teachers,” said Adam Schowalter, executive director of the Collier County Education Association.

While teachers are at home, guest teachers like Mary Brown are ready to step in.

“I retired as a teacher from New Jersey and I came to Florida and said what do I do now,” Brown said. “I love teaching so being a guest teacher made the most sense to me.”

Brown is one of Collier County schools nearly 700 guest teachers.

But the district said that is not enough.

Not all guest teachers are full time and more and more are turning down assignments because of their own fear of COVID-19.

The school district recently produced a video trying to attract more professionals to the classroom.

“We invite them you know, consider being a guest teacher because we know, during COVID, we are going to have staff that need to take time off,” said Chad Oliver, executive director of communications at Collier County Public Schools. “That’s why filling those classroom vacancies is so important.”

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