Webinar offers advice on recruiting staff for summer programs

After local educational agencies struggled to staff programs last summer, even with additional funding, “Innovative Staff Recruitment Strategies,” a Feb. 22 webinar hosted by the Partnership for Children & Youth examined recruitment strategies for education leaders to consider while planning for this year.

The fourth event in the organization’s Summer Game Plan Series, some of the pipelines and solutions discussed could also lead to impacts that surpass the summer as staffing shortages continue to be an issue.

The webinar featured eight breakout sessions on topics including developing workforce pathways with community colleges; partnering with CSU education programs; recruiting teachers and staff for summer programs; creative tools for staff recruitment in rural communities; and employing high school students. Attendees were able to select two sessions to attend.

Rural summer learning strategies

In the breakout about recruitment in rural communities, Melea Meyer, STEAM hub and system of support for expanded learning Sonoma County lead, and Beth Pine, after school education and safety program coordinator for Fort Bragg Unified School District, shared staffing tips they have learned.

For Pine, working with community-based organizations (CBOs) like the Mendocino Coast Recreation and Park District has been a positive. It’s key to find a CBO that shares the LEAs’ mission, though it doesn’t have to be the most obvious choice. As Pine mentioned, many community partners already have summer programs, it’s just about finding the right fit.

Partners don’t necessarily have to be an organization, either Meyer noted. In smaller communities, board members or parents can contribute. LEAs can consult with families to assess their needs.

While it can be difficult to ask teachers to take on a summer position too, Meyer said that many who end up working enjoy the time to have fun with students and connect. Building additional staffing supports is also helpful.

With new hires, having to train individuals so quickly has been an issue related to recruitment, Pine said. As for finding resources, she noted that the local county office of education is the most valuable as well as the regional lead.

The session’s slides, including links to a 2021 Afterschool Staff Recruitment Toolkit as well as an editable expanded learning recruitment flyer, can be viewed here.

Recruitment guidance

In the session on recruiting teachers and staff, Jess Banks and Jen Martin of the Sperling Center for Research and Innovation shared resources including the National Summer Learning Association’s 2022 summer learning guide, which has five outreach strategies intended to support strong attendance among students that can be applied to staff recruitment:

  • developing a compelling and accurate outreach message about the program/job
  • establishing a clear and personalized communication plan
  • offering well rounded experiences built on caring relationships, academics and enrichment
  • surveying after a few weeks to understand experiences

Also referenced was the Wallace Foundation’s summer learning guide, which outlines a planning process starting with documenting underlying assumptions around topics like enrollment, capacity, goals and target ratios before identifying essential job functions. Next LEAs can develop job descriptions, a hiring timeline and a professional development plan.

To advertise open positions, materials should include a core message, program highlights (like dates/hours/camp structure), program benefits, staff characteristics, additional context and a call to action.

On March 9, the next webinar in the Summer Game Plan Series, titled “Designing Engaging Summer Learning Opportunities” took place. It will be followed by a sixth virtual event, “Summer Program Operations: Mastering All the Checklists” on March 24.

View a recording of the Feb. 22 webinar as well as other past webinars in the series and sign up for upcoming sessions here.