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Column: District 518 offers substitute and on-call interpreter orientations

By Sharon Johnson and Cory Van Briesen, Disrrict 518

WORTHINGTON — Across the state, there is a shortage of substitute teachers and paraprofessionals. District 518 lacks a sufficient number of people to fill the demand for substitutes as well. Substitutes make a significant contribution within a school district by providing instruction and support services when regularly scheduled employees need to be gone from work due to illness, trainings, or emergencies.  

Currently, ISD 518 has 251 teachers and 141 paraprofessionals on staff. There are 58 people on the substitute teacher list and 95 people on the substitute paraprofessional list. Although that is a large number of individuals, substitutes have freedom to accept or decline openings based on their own schedules. Often the demand for substitutes is greater than the number of substitutes available on a day.  On days with a shortage of substitutes, other teachers are asked to give up their preparation time to teach for an absent colleague, principals go into classrooms to provide coverage, and/or classes of students are split between other classroom teachers in the same grade-level or subject area.

In an effort to recruit additional substitutes, District 518 will be hosting an orientation for prospective substitute teachers and substitute paraprofessionals from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 14 at Prairie Elementary, Room 142. Assistant Principal Cory Van Briesen and other district personnel will facilitate the substitute orientation session.

The orientation covers a wide range of topics including the application process, duties, expectations, technology, scheduling and wages. District 518 has found the orientation beneficial in preparing substitutes for the various duties they will encounter.  

Due to the many languages spoken by students in the district, on-call interpreters assist faculty members in communicating with families at conferences. On Aug. 17, District 518 will host an orientation/training for on-call interpreters. Individuals who are interested in having their name added to the on-call interpreter list, and who have a high school diploma or GED, are welcome to attend the orientation/training from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Aug. 17 at Prairie Elementary, Room 403.  Returning on-call interpreters are asked to attend from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Aug. 17 for training as well. The training will cover the ethics of interpreting, expectations and education terminology.  We will update the contact information for all on-call interpreters as well. Herminio Nuñez López will be the lead facilitator.

To sign up for the substitute orientation or the on-call interpreter orientation, please call Community Education at 376-6105. Both trainings are offered free of charge.  

Individuals interested in applying to be substitutes or on-call interpreters may do so on the District 518 website, Click on the district tab and then on the employment link. Individuals interested in applying to be substitute paraprofessionals and on-call interpreters must have a high school diploma or GED. Individuals who apply to be substitute teachers must have a bachelor’s degree (in any field) and must obtain a short-call substitute license from the State of Minnesota. All substitutes and on-call interpreters must also pass a background check.  

Substitutes and interpreters make valuable contributions to the education of students in District 518. We are grateful for the time and talent that our current substitutes and interpreters invest in helping the district provide quality education for all learners. We are also eager to add more talented individuals to our team of on-call personnel!

Sharon Johnson is District 518’s community education director. Cory Van Briesen is assistant principal at Prairie Elementary.