BENNINGTON — When you think of the perks of working for a school system, there’s the staples: summers off, job stability, good benefits and work hours that match your child’s schedule.
Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union — which oversees schools in Bennington, Shaftsbury, Arlington, Woodford and Pownal — offers all of those and more.
“They’re here with a purpose,” says Katie West, public information coordinator for the supervisory union, of school employees. “I do think that that is recognized throughout the staff. There is a strong sense of community, in the school buildings and outside of the school buildings.”
Beyond providing a sense of meaning and camaraderie, the SVSU supports its employees in practical ways.
“We offer competitive compensation, a really strong benefits package and a retirement plan through the state of Vermont. It’s a pension-style retirement plan and benefits,” says Nick Gault, the district’s director of human resources.
With southwestern Vermont bordering New York and Massachusetts, the SVSU has to compete with not just the rest of the state, but also its neighbors to the south and west, to keep up with industry standards and attract a workforce. And that’s good for workers.
The SVSU offers a robust professional development plan to employees at all stages of their careers. Courses are subsidized at the University of Vermont per credit rate, covering the full cost of tuition at most institutions.
“Somebody can come and go through an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree program, while employed here, and get reimbursed for that along the way,” says Gault.
Whether seeking out teacher certification or not, employment with the SVSU offers extensive professional learning opportunities throughout the year. The opportunities are always being updated and are a great way for all school staff to continue learning and stay up to date on evolving best practices for the schools. Learn more about continuing education programs here: bit.ly/SVSUjobs.
The SVSU’s existing staff is dedicated, with a love of kids and desire to put their needs first. Like-minded candidates would be the best fit.
“From teachers to office workers to members of our maintenance and grounds crews, and the folks who are out there painting the lines on the football field — they’re doing that for the kids,” says West.
It’s a large network. People don’t often think of the supervisory union as a major area employer, since it’s separated into insular school systems. But with about 750 employees, it definitely is. Gault estimates that about 350 of those staffers work directly for the supervisory union, and the rest are employed by the individual schools.
The SVSU makes sure new employees receive the support they need. Prior to the far-reaching effects of COVID-19, the schools had a 10 percent turnover rate, well below average.
“We have a program where we assign new hires in certain positions — teachers, administrators — a mentor. There’s in-building training. Sometimes it’s on-the-job training, as they’re getting up to speed and getting acclimated to the role,” explains Gault.
Schools are complex work ecosystems, and need more than just excellent educators to run smoothly. From custodians to school psychologists and speech language pathologists, the need for school staff beyond teachers is growing.
Gault speaks to that growth. “You’ve seen a lot more on the professional services side. So those are not educators; they’re not in the classroom teaching. They’re supporting education, but doing it through a totally different lens.”
Right now, Molly Stark Elementary School is seeking a music teacher.
Schools also need English language instructors for students whose first language isn’t English. Across the supervisory union, there’s always a need for substitute teachers, as well as openings for some coaching positions for math and literacy.
The SVSU often posts positions on School Spring, an education job listings website. You can check out available positions here: schoolspring.com/jobs/?employer=10286.
For more information about Southwestern Vermont Supervisory Union, peruse its website here: svsu.org.