Guest blogging today is Scott Gaiber, Director of
Recruitment and Human Capital Support for the San Francisco Unified
School District, a Pre-K to 12th grade district that serves over 55,000
students in approximately 140 schools. Scott manages a team that
provides district-wide recruitment and staffing support, serves as a
single-point-of-contact for all district administrators, provides
professional development workshops on staffing, and visits district
schools to support talent management. Scott is an Education Pioneers
Graduate School Fellowship alumnus from the 2008 Bay Area Cohort.
There's a good dose of "cage-busting" happening at the San Francisco
Unified School District to get the best school leaders and teachers into
our schools and classrooms and to keep them there. We're working to
eliminate as many barriers as we can to effectively staff
under-performing schools, and a key element is the timing of hiring.
Top candidates usually search for positions early in the hiring
season, around April or before. But if our district is not ready to
hire candidates in April - and traditional district hiring timelines
often mean that a majority of open positions aren't filled until August -
we're simply not able to compete for top talent.
My job is to make sure that SFUSD can compete with aggressive
recruiting practices and hiring timelines because it is essential that
our schools are staffed with the best people to ensure great teaching
and learning results.
The lesson about the high stakes for early hiring is something that I
first learned as an Education Pioneers Fellow in 2008, working with
TNTP. TNTP's research showed time and time again that the best
candidates are hungry and they're looking for opportunities early.
During my Fellowship, I worked with both the Oakland and San Francisco
Unified School Districts to create a report that made specific policy
recommendations to effectively staff teachers in these two under-served
Five years later, now working for SFUSD, that report still comes up
regularly in my work, most recently when my team and I were responsible
for high stakes hiring for one of the district's lowest performing
When I joined SFUSD in 2011, the district was working to implement
some fairly dramatic changes after receiving a massive federal student
performance grant. Ten schools in the district had qualified for the
grant, which is awarded to schools that are among 5 percent of the
lowest-performing schools in California. Everett Middle School was one
of them, and I was tasked with leading my team in supporting the site to
implement a turnaround plan, meaning at least half of the staff would
need to be replaced.
Located between the Mission and Castro neighborhoods of San
Francisco, Everett has over 400 students in grades six through eight,
over 50 percent of whom are Hispanic or Latino, and 23 percent who are
African American. Over 70 percent of Everett's students are
socioeconomically disadvantaged, and nearly half of the students are
English language learners.
In the 2009-2010 school year, the school's Academic Performance Index
(API) dropped by 31 points overall, and by 84 points for African
American students. There was no question that Everett needed a dramatic
and aggressive turnaround plan.
When I first arrived at SFUSD, district leadership, most specifically
leadership in Human Resource Department, enabled me to create the team I
needed: one that is customer service-based and equity-centered, and one
that provides the most resources to the schools that have students who
need them most. We are cage-busting by trying to eliminate as many
barriers as possible to effectively staffing our under-performing
schools. For example, we look to leverage the provisions of the Quality
Teacher and Education Act (QTEA), voter-approved in 2008, which allows
us to--among other policies--make San Francisco teacher salaries
competitive with those in surrounding school districts; provide
financial incentives for teachers to work at schools with historically
high turnover and teach in hard-to-fill subject areas; and provide
flexibility for the hardest to staff schools to hire teachers on more
aggressive timeline than other district schools.
My team and I worked with Everett's new leadership team, principal
Richard Curci and assistant principals Jennifer Kuhr and Lena Van Haren,
to re-staff Everett for success, and we did a massive amount of new
hiring that first year -- 27 new teachers. As we worked with Curci, Kuhr
and Van Haren to put a plan together, we took the time to develop a
clear model of what we were looking for in candidates and a rigorous,
multi-step process for candidates to demonstrate their fit for the site,
including demonstration lessons and incorporating student and family
voice in the evaluation of candidates.
My team and I helped Everett's school leaders identify desirable
candidates, conduct rigorous interviews, and support and bring along the
people they wanted to get on board as employees. Since then, we've
continued to support the school on hiring and managing their staff to
The results at Everett are remarkable, and were recently featured in the San Francisco Chronicle.
There's a new culture at Everett that has transformed it from one of
the lowest performing schools to the most improved middle school in the
district. If you visit the school today, the kids are calm and they're
learning; the instruction is infinitely better; the staff is cohesive;
and the school as a whole has a clear vision and mission.
Now, other teachers from the district want to go there, and more and
more families want to send their kids there. Because we were able to
think strategically about our hiring decisions, we were able to get the
talent into Everett that had the tools to improve student outcomes.
But our work is far from over. While Everett posted a 54 point API
gain in 2011-2012, including a 32 point gain for African American
students, a 29 point gain for Hispanic or Latino students, and a 23
point gain for socioeconomically disadvantaged students, the school's
overall API hovers around 700. Though we don't yet have results for the
2012-2013 school year, Everett is on the right path to providing its
students with the education they deserve, and we will continue to ensure
that it has the right people in place to ensure success for all kids.
Richard Curci, principal of Everett Middle School, said of
Scott's work: "In San Francisco Unified School District we are very
fortunate to have the knowledgeable, dedicated and talented Scott Gaiber
as our Director of Recruitment and Human Capital Support. Scott has
helped my high needs school by steering the best candidates who were the
appropriate fit for our school. He and his staff are always quick to
respond to the many inquiries from our leadership team around human
capital issues including interpreting the union contact. Scott is
creative in helping us think out of the box to get our needs met. All
his decisions are made with the students' best interest in mind. In all
he does, Scott Gaiber is professional, supportive, insightful,
proactive and always extremely helpful."
- Scott Gaiber