How does Sutton Public Schools hire the right teacher?

The process of hiring teachers can be difficult and lengthy, but is worth the effort.

Philip Ostrowski, Staff Writer

Teachers are important in today’s future because they shape tomorrow’s innovators. The way that teachers educate their students is important and highly influential on what our world will look like years down the road. A good teacher who is passionate about their job can make all the difference in a student’s life, and can push them towards success. These are the types of teachers that we need in our public schools, but finding the right person to fit the role can be difficult. So how does Sutton Public Schools hire the right teacher?

I interviewed Ms. Corron, our new Sutton Middle School principal. Before she got the job, she was a Spanish teacher, and had taught since 2004. She was a great help in finding the information needed for this article. I also interviewed Mrs. Reilly (Mrs. Nummelin), an English teacher, for her input on how her time has been while teaching here, just beginning in 2020 amidst the pandemic.

Our process begins with a job opening at the school. The District will post a job offering on SchoolSpring, a website that helps advertise potential jobs to educators. Potential teachers interested in the position will apply through the website, and their applications will then be looked over. Their credentials will be heavily examined and background checks will be run to ensure the safety of the students and staff. If the job that the school is offering is a teaching position, they will put together an interview committee. The interview committee will review the candidates and bring in each to interview: “We would have a set of interview questions… they’re pretty standard. For example, in a world language interview, we would ask something directly related to teaching Spanish” Ms. Corron noted. 

After each candidate, the committee will have a short debriefing and talk about their strengths and weaknesses. Potential teachers may go through multiple interviews if needed. After the candidate(s) pass the interview, they will be brought in for a demo lesson. The teacher will be required to come in with a lesson ready to teach the students. For hiring teachers, Sutton Schools usually gets input and opinions from teachers and administrators. They want to see what they have to offer in the classroom before they make the final decision. The committee will decide on the person to fill the position, and report back to the Superintendent for the final decision.

Ms. Corron mentions a few things that she has trouble with while attempting to find the right teacher. When a job becomes available, they can sometimes get a lot of applications, so narrowing down the options falls onto the principal’s shoulders. Ms. Corron also explains that during the practice lessons that they come into to show their teaching skills, “they’re usually pulling out all the bells and whistles… so it’s kind of like a show or production instead of them teaching in their natural environment”. Having some way of seeing the teachers in their natural environment would help in narrowing down who could be the next teacher. “You never really know what a teacher is going to be like until they get into the classroom”. 

Our most recent teacher here at Sutton High School is Mrs. Reilly (Mrs. Nummelin). Mrs. Reilly came to Sutton High School in 2020, and is teaching English for their second year. They first found out about Sutton Schools from the Breathe For Change program held in the Elementary School. They liked what they were doing with the community and the kids. The program taught and promoted both social and mental wellness, which they appreciated. Mrs. Reilly later decided to apply to Sutton High School and has been here since.

Their hiring process was a bit different because the pandemic was in full swing while applying. It took about two weeks total to be hired, and the process was almost completely online, but they believe their transition from their old school was well worth it. They admire Sutton’s inclusion to all people, how the students and staff are comfortable with talking about certain topics, and how the Connections community runs here.

Overall, Sutton Public Schools is very careful in their selection of teachers. They try to see each side of an applicant: their credentials, education, experiences, and the feedback from their principal or other references. Ms. Corron emphasizes that “for me, it’s been really important to find the right person, someone who’s a good fit in this school and community.”