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cvusd case study

How CVUSD nurtures culture to retain substitute teachers

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Cajon Valley Union School District (CVUSD) is located in the southern California city of El Cajon, near San Diego. It serves 18,000 students in grades TK through 12th across 26 schools. CVUSD’s mission is to make Cajon Valley the best place to live, work, play, and raise a family.

The district is led by pioneering superintendent Dr. David Miyashiro, who has spearheaded a number of transformational initiatives at the district. As a result of his efforts and all the staff that support the school’s children on a daily basis, CVUSD has been accepted into the League of Innovative School Districts and recognized by Digital Promise and the U.S. Department of Education as a National Model of Excellence and Innovation.

CVUSD is known for their incredible community of teachers and student instruction. Their focus on building a positive and welcoming culture extends to all parts of their extended community as well. Substitute teachers — whether a part of the school’s existing sub pool or of Swing’s supplemental platform — are treated like local heroes within their community. In this article, we explore 3 key practices that CVUSD uses to build a sustainable substitute community that makes subs want to return time and time again:

Open communication

CVUSD maintains open and transparent communication channels with substitute teachers to facilitate smooth operations. Since some substitutes accept assignments quite far in advance, Silva encourages preemptive communication. “Reach out to that sub before the start of the assignment and let them know how excited you are to have them there. Make sure they’re still planning on showing up to the assignment. At the end of the day, they’re humans who want to know that you’re excited to see them and welcome them to your site.” 

At the end of an assignment, the district encourages substitutes to provide feedback and communicate any concerns or issues they encounter during their assignments, allowing CVUSD to constantly improve.

Step 1: Assign them a buddy on their first day

From the moment substitutes arrive at a school site, they are greeted with warmth and hospitality. “At Cajon Valley, everyone is greeted with a smile. No matter who you are, you will be embraced as much as possible,” Silva explains. The district ensures that substitutes are assigned a point person who assists them in navigating the school environment, by providing necessary information, such as where to store their lunch, how to access facilities, where to find their classroom, emergency protocols, etc. By addressing any concerns subs may have from the get-go, they are able to feel valued and integrated into the school community from the outset.

Step 2: Personal touches go a long way

Feeling welcomed is one of the biggest pain points for subs, according to Silva. In addition to assigning a point person to help subs navigate their first day, some CVUSD school sites go the extra mile and provide substitutes with welcome “swag” bags containing items to enhance their experience, such as snacks, school merchandise, and useful resources. “It’s a nice, easy way to be inclusive and help subs feel like part of the team,” explained Silva. “Those little personal touches make a difference.”

Step 3: Show off your school

CVUSD actively promotes its school sites and encourages substitutes to take on assignments at various locations within the district. The district recognizes the importance of showcasing the unique qualities and positive aspects of each school site to attract substitutes. “Don’t be afraid to be a little bit cheesy,” Silva advises. When filling out a request for Swing, highlight the benefits of working at your school, such as the fact that sub plans will always be available. “Think about how you’re presenting and promoting your site and what will make substitutes want to accept an assignment.” By highlighting the benefits of working at different locations, CVUSD seeks to engage substitutes and encourage them to become regular contributors to the district’s workforce.

As the district continues to evolve and adapt to changing needs, its excellence in substitute management and partnership with Swing Education stands as a testament to the power of collaboration, innovation, and a shared commitment to student success. By fostering positive relationships and transparent communication channels, CVUSD cultivates a sense of belonging and appreciation among substitute teachers, allowing for a thriving educational environment.

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