Working Iowa: Dozens of entry-level positions open within Cedar Rapids Community School District

The Cedar Rapids Community School District said it's looking to hire dozens of paraprofessionals.
Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 8:47 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The Cedar Rapids Community School District is looking to fill about 210 positions. Many of those jobs are entry-level, including paraprofessionals, bus drivers and food service workers.

40 paraprofessional positions open

Dawn Stocker has been a para-professional at Polk Alternative Education Center for about 10 years now. Her duties vary from day to day, but she’s usually paired up with students who need some extra support during the school day.

“I have a real heart for kids, especially those with special needs,” she said. “I follow them around and support them in whatever they need, take them on walks, do breaks, help them to learn.”

Right now, the Cedar Rapids schools district is looking to hire about 40 paraprofessionals. That number is a bit higher than normal.

“At any given time, we have about 20 openings, so we’re about twice as many as we normally have,” said Wendy Parker, the executive director of special services.

She says the position doesn’t really require any specific training, that will all be provided. But there are certain characteristics that will help you thrive.

“Heart for kids, willingness to learn, positive, want to be part of a team, want to see kids being successful,” Parker said.

Paraprofessionals support the needs of the teachers and their students to make a difference in their days. Every day is different.

“You’re going to greet students at the beginning of the day. You’re gonna meet kids where they are and where their needs are,” Parker said. “You’re going to be in and out of classrooms, you’re going to have an instruction that looks different.”

Dawn Stocker says she’s always learning something new, and she’s picked up some tips and tricks along the way.

“I pick up different math tricks, some ELA tricks, some behavior intervention tricks. I use a lot of humor,” Stocker said.

But at the end of the day, it’s the kids that bring her back to school.

“I take away that kids are blessed and grateful and that we should have hope and that everybody learns differently,” she said.

Bus drivers are the ‘bookends’ for the district

The school district says it’s short bus drivers as it starts the year, it could use about 15 to 20 to get children to and from school. All drivers are required to get a Class B CDL through the Department of Transportation. Supervisor Erica Shelangoski bus drivers are the ‘book ends’ for the district.

“They get to be the first thing the kids get to see every day when they get up and go to school...and they get to be the last thing they see when they get off of the bus,” she said.

She says while the training and licensure process seems daunting, it’s really not so bad.

“If you have the desire and the drive and you really love working with kids, anybody can do this position,” she said.

About 30 foodservice assistance needed across the district

About 480 kids will come through the lunch line every day at the Kenwood Leadership Academy in Cedar Rapids. Dawn Kaufman is the foodservice manager here. She’s in charge of making sure that everyone is served a nutritious meal. But this year, she’s starting with some staff shortages.

“It does make it a critical issue with the constraints that we’re under and health standards that we have to keep to so it does make it a difficult time,” she said.

The district needs about 30 food service assistants, two or three of them are needed at Kenwood.

“There are a lot of different menus, different jobs that you can do. It’s hands-on, physically active, it’s very fast-paced,” she said. “It’s a good camaraderie environment, small employee count, there’s more interaction, it’s a very teamwork-oriented location.”

The district said there are four, five, and six-hour positions available. They all come with IPERS benefits. Skillwise, you’ll be able to learn a lot on site.

“It’s a great place to start in the district if you decide, ‘maybe this isn’t what I want to do’,” she said. “But it gives you the open access to seeing other positions open in the district that you may want to try out, as well. You’ll learn new techniques. And it’s an opportunity to say ‘I have an idea, let’s try this.’”

For more information about employment opportunities with the district, click or tap here.

In today's Working Iowa, we take a look at what kinds of characteristics are needed for a job in food service for a Cedar Rapids school district.

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