Voices, a Podcast from the Seneca Valley School District

Episode 40 - Joining the SV Team with Ms. Kyra Bobak

June 22, 2021 Seneca Valley School District Season 1 Episode 40
Voices, a Podcast from the Seneca Valley School District
Episode 40 - Joining the SV Team with Ms. Kyra Bobak
Show Notes Transcript

Joining the SV Team with Ms. Kyra Bobak

Ms. Kyra Bobak, Seneca Valley Human Resources Director

Ms. Kyra Bobak has over 20 years of experience in education and has been an administrator in Seneca Valley School District since 2006.
During her work as principal at Haine Elementary, the school received the Olweus Quality Assurance designation in 2011. The school was one of the three schools in the nation to be recognized. During her tenure in this role, she was also elected and served as the Pennsylvania Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals (PAESSP) West II Regional Representative for the State.
Ms. Bobak is a member of numerous professional associations, and as the Director of Human Resources, she is currently serving as a founding advisory board member for Sprigeo, an online national organization for an anti-bullying system. Her position on the board allows her to share her passion for education and commitment to positive change in schools.

• Employment opportunities at Seneca Valley
• Required paperwork for new hires
• Research-based hiring process
• Supports for professional hires (teacher group)
• Basic suggestions/tips for interviewing


 File Name: Voices E40 Kyra Bobak.mp3

File Length: 00:26:36


FULL TRANSCRIPT (with timecode)


00:00:02:23 - 00:00:07:25

Introduction: Welcome to Voices, a podcast brought to you by the Seneca Valley School District. 


00:00:10:21 - 00:00:17:19

Jeff Krakoff: This is Jeff Krakoff, I'm here as Kyra Bobak director of human resources for Seneca Valley School District. Thanks for joining us. 


00:00:18:27 - 00:00:21:27

Kyra Bobak: So thank you for extending the invite. 


00:00:22:12 - 00:00:32:04

Jeff Krakoff: So, Kyra, we want to talk about hiring at the school district as we head into the summer. What kinds of opportunities are available right now? 


00:00:34:06 - 00:01:07:01

Kyra Bobak: Yeah, I think I first like to start off and just kind of address and speak to individuals who really currently are actively pursuing employment opportunities within the Seneca Valley School District. And what does that look like? Where do they need to go to find information regarding the opportunities? So for those who are in education field or are interested in working in a school environment, strongly encourage them to visit our district website. 


00:01:08:09 - 00:01:18:26

Kyra Bobak: When going to the website, you will see the center of the homepage. There is a link titled SV is Now Hiring. 


00:01:20:14 - 00:01:20:29

Jeff Krakoff: Make sense. 


00:01:21:01 - 00:01:52:06

Kyra Bobak: We put that on that homepage, as we put it, on the home page. So it kind of draws the attention. It's easy to find if you click that link, it directly takes you to the home page of our hiring portal TalentEd. And, you know, and there is a lot information on this page. So I just kind of want to speak to that briefly. At the top of the page there are very specific directions regarding the application process and creating an account. 


00:01:53:17 - 00:02:25:09

Kyra Bobak: In addition, there's very detailed information regarding our three step interview process and timeline. And then at the bottom of the page, you will find a list of our current openings K through 12. And this list also includes classified positions. So you will see openings for elementary, special education, openings that fall under certain certifications in the secondary area, classified positions and that would be for the paraprofessional. 


00:02:25:20 - 00:03:06:16

Kyra Bobak: You're interested in being serving as a teacher's aide and supporting learners in the classroom. There's opportunity there as well. So that listing is there. What's nice about it is once an individual creates an account and you could do that at your own pace, that's what's nice. Go in  and if you don't have a lot of time initially to sit down and enter all the information and upload all the documents you could save and then come back and you have a little more time so you can be a work in progress, or it could be something that if time allows do you could sit down and do it in one setting. 


00:03:07:02 - 00:03:12:20

Jeff Krakoff: So don't automatically say, well, does the applicant need to make sure they're saving it? 


00:03:14:01 - 00:03:14:16

Kyra Bobak: Yes. 


00:03:16:16 - 00:03:41:07

Kyra Bobak: And so by creating this account, what it allows users to do is move forward in the process. You submit the application and you submit all required paperwork with this is that once you are an account user, you will receive status updates on positions. This is where you will also through via the system, receive invitations to interviews. 


00:03:42:24 - 00:04:16:06

Kyra Bobak: All communications regarding this of the position is also sent through the portal, so, you know, if you are moving along in the process and you have not heard anything, that candidate, the applicant will receive information letting them know where we are and the hiring decision. So it is nice and wants, the count is completed in full. Like I said, all you need to do then is go back to that home, the main page, the home page, look at the bottom and hit the apply button. 


00:04:16:08 - 00:04:49:00

Kyra Bobak: And that expresses and allows us to see from our end that you've expressed interest in that particular position. So many of our applicants have several certifications. So, for instance, an applicant might be certified in elementary education, but then as well be certified in special education. So in order for us to know if you're interested in both positions, both openings for the upcoming school year, it does require the applicant to submit and show interest in both postings. 


00:04:49:24 - 00:05:30:27

Kyra Bobak: But what it doesn't require is doing double the work. So that's what's really nice about the system. And at any given time when you're a user, you can update your information. So if you receive an additional letter of recommendation that you really want to share with us from your present-day employer, then you could just upload that again. And we're able to do that automatically on our end. So but one thing I do want to mention, and this is noted in the directions on the home page, but I think it's important to share because we do receive a lot of questions and mostly from recent graduates. 


00:05:31:09 - 00:06:31:27

Kyra Bobak: So they've graduated and they're in the process of applying for their certification with the Pennsylvania Department of Education. They haven't received it, but they've been awarded a degree in education and they're waiting on that. So we often are asked, what does this should I continue with the process? And the answer is absolutely. We do not want to hold individuals up. So what we recommend is that if you're waiting on a certification because you've recently graduated or you move to the area and you're new to the area, so you're certified out of state, but you're not certified in the state of Pennsylvania, what we recommend to do is put a placeholder document in that area indicating that you're in the process of applying for the certification and that allows you to complete the process from an application end and then save, and then we're able to view everything else. 


00:06:32:15 - 00:07:02:14

Kyra Bobak: And so that doesn't stop for missing an opportunity from a scheduled interview. Now, with that being said, you do also want to be very diligent in that application process and act as quickly as possible, because as we move forward in the process, that certification is a requirement as well as all the other documents noted on the portal. So those are requirements for employment. Should you be a candidate of choice when we go to recommend to the board. 


00:07:05:29 - 00:07:15:04

Jeff Krakoff: I'm sorry, I was going to say sounds like one-stop for pretty much everything that somebody is going to need to submit or if they want to change something or update it. So. So that's true. 


00:07:15:27 - 00:07:21:00

Kyra Bobak: Absolutely. And in addition to accessing that link on the home page, 


00:07:22:21 - 00:07:53:03

Kyra Bobak: interested applicants can all go to the H.R. Web page, which is located under the department tab of our district home page. And once you access, it's the human resource web page. To the left of it, there is a link titled Employment Opportunities. And by clicking, that link will also take you to the portal. You know, one positive and one benefit of going to the human resource web page as well. 


00:07:53:12 - 00:08:22:07

Kyra Bobak: Beyond accessing the portal is there is also helpful information that is available specifically to look for directions, for applying for the clearances, the required clearances for employment. So we give very detailed step-by-step directions. It's not uncommon for people to get overwhelmed with how much paperwork is required. So we try to make it as user-friendly and as easy as possible. 


00:08:23:22 - 00:08:55:01

Kyra Bobak: That's the case if it is possible. And so they're very detailed. Someone could just hit that link access to directions and just follow them and you'll be able to get them within a timely fashion. You'll also find new higher employee documentation and information on substitutes, so what to do if you're interested in subbing in the district, and I do want to touch base briefly on that because I also feel like I know the goal is always get full-time permanent employment. 


00:08:55:20 - 00:09:25:24

Kyra Bobak: And and that's wonderful. If that occurs and you go through the process and you're the candidate of choice. However, if it does not, I don't want individuals to get discouraged. There is always a need and an opportunity to serve as a substitute, and it is an excellent way to gain experience in the classroom, you know, just fine-tune and better perfect your instructional delivery, your instructional practices. 


00:09:26:08 - 00:10:08:25

Kyra Bobak: You have an opportunity to become familiar with school board policies, procedures, an opportunity to build relationships with administrators and the colleagues, the colleagues of the building. So it's very helpful. You get to know other teachers or support staff and you learn a lot about your dialogue with them as you're filling in for them. And so it is really just a valuable experience then. And because we are so large, it's that you can definitely, most certainly work every day so that, you know, finding something to do every day or finding of an assignment to fill would not be difficult just because the size of our district. 


00:10:09:12 - 00:10:41:23

Kyra Bobak: And so, you know, that is something we value. We've been very appreciative this past year of those who have served in that capacity. In fact, the last board meeting on June 14th, the board approved a motion to actually increase the support to rate for teachers. So we are currently now at one hundred dollars a day after day 31, it would go to one ten, one hundred and ten dollars a day. 


00:10:42:13 - 00:11:16:14

Kyra Bobak: For retirees, it would be 125. And you know, this past year we had super subs that reported to our buildings and which that meant they worked on a daily basis. If those individuals who served in that capacity last year are interested in returning, we could they would come in a day one at the 110 rate. So so and there's also opportunity to serve as a substitute for secretaries. There's very much a need there and paraprofessionals for the cafeteria. 


00:11:17:13 - 00:11:33:14

Kyra Bobak: So our professionals will get eleven dollars an hour. Cafeteria is thirteen fifty and Secretaries' is eleven dollars an hour as well. So just something to consider. And the full time opportunity 


00:11:33:24 - 00:11:38:08

Jeff Krakoff: So all these positions are posted as of now on the website. Is that 


00:11:38:10 - 00:11:38:25

Jeff Krakoff: correct? 


00:11:38:27 - 00:11:40:00

Kyra Bobak: Yes. Yes. 


00:11:40:19 - 00:11:53:04

Jeff Krakoff: And should people check back? I'm sure you have a pretty good idea of your needs for the fall, but I'm sure also things can change over the summer. Would you recommend that people check back every few weeks or so? 


00:11:54:25 - 00:12:34:17

Kyra Bobak: Absolutely. And I just spoke to our size and the need for substitutes and how there's that opportunity to work in that capacity. That being said, because we are large, I mean, when someone comes to Seneca Valley, I truly believe because of our culture. And the people, community and our school board people do stay, but, you know, life changes, there's life circumstances that change. And because we are large, it's not uncommon for us to receive, you know, a last minute resignation, maybe because someone's relocating or someone has a personal circumstances and they're not able to return. 


00:12:35:16 - 00:13:14:15

Kyra Bobak: So that's not uncommon just because of our numbers. So yes, absolutely continue to look back. If you do not see something, especially those that are certified and secondary, if they have a secondary content specific certification. If you don't see that listed specifically, we have what we call unanticipated secondary openings, and that's where you would apply there. And what's nice about that posting is that at any time, if we do have an unexpected opening, that is the first job posting we go to to pull and look at applications and credentials and so forth. 


00:13:14:23 - 00:13:33:15

Jeff Krakoff: OK, so you're looking at applicants and when you call somebody in to be interviewed, I know I've spoken to some of the principals involved in hiring. They've gone into quite a bit of detail. But I know you have a research-based hiring process. Can you give us an overview of what that's all about and how it works? 


00:13:35:15 - 00:14:05:26

Kyra Bobak: Yes, absolutely. So, you know, we truly take pride in our process and our ability to make efforts in recruiting and promoting highly qualified teaching professionals and in our openings, but our process really, truly aligns to our mission and our beliefs and to the best practices of effective teachers. So to give you a little bit of background, when Dr. 


00:14:05:28 - 00:14:39:15

Kyra Bobak: Vitale was serving as the assistant superintendent for human resources in 2009, she completed her dissertation. And part of this was the development of interview protocols that are research based. So there a blend of research on effective questioning with research on effective interviewing. And so it is interview questions that focus on the applicant's abilities, skills and experience. 


00:14:40:09 - 00:15:20:27

Kyra Bobak: But the questions are also aligned to research based on field tested rubrics. And so that allows our team to use the rubric with the same criteria to assess a response so that we could be objective as possible. This work of the in this area came from James Strong and Jennifer Hyman out of the College of William and Mary in a books. They have research on the qualities of effective teachers. And so, you know, they really kind of align the quality of the research of the quality of effective teachers to the interview protocol questions and to the books. 


00:15:21:13 - 00:16:12:22

Kyra Bobak: And when looking at these qualities of the effective teachers, we're really looking at the teacher as a person. So their personal attributes, how they handle classroom management, organization, planning for instruction. So that is an area that is addressed and look for the implementation of instruction, you know, the monitoring of student progress and student achievement. How do you set high expectations for learning? How are you assessing your learners? How are you incorporating technology? How are you managing your classroom in general? So the process is based on a rubric, like I said, and a score so dependent on the applicant score determines on if they move on in the next round of the process. 


00:16:13:10 - 00:16:46:08

Kyra Bobak: We do have a three step interview process. The first step is a what we call our screening interview. That is a brief interview once again attached to a score and a rubric. So if the candidate scores, well, they go on to the next round, which is building level that consist of meeting with a team of building level administrators. And that's about an hour in length. And if they score well with the rubric there, then they move on to what we call a central office interview. 


00:16:47:08 - 00:17:26:05

Kyra Bobak: And that is either with an assistant superintendent, along with the team of building level administrators or a director or a supervisor, along with the building level administrators. And we also have an essay component requirement that we ask of all candidates to move the process when they get to the final final round. So it is a very rigorous process, but one that we found to be highly effective. And what we really value and take pride in is that connection to the research based component of Jennifer Hyman and James Strong and their work on these protocols. 


00:17:26:16 - 00:17:40:20

Kyra Bobak: And so we were fortunate enough in 2009 to actually be trained by them in the use of the protocols to increase our greater reliability. And we've gained on that throughout the years as we've had changes in administration. 


00:17:41:15 - 00:17:59:23

Jeff Krakoff: OK, so if I apply, I go through this rigorous process and I'm offered a position and accept that what's next, what kind of support you offer new teachers and other employees of the district that they get oriented? 


00:18:02:08 - 00:18:37:22

Kyra Bobak: Well, as an administrative team, our mission is truly to develop a culture around professional growth for our teachers. And this begins with a strong foundation early on, early on upon hire when they have accepted the job. We we we have built and established a multiyear induction program. And so what that looks like is there are programs offered and there's a variety of sessions allowing the teachers to develop on their own personal learning path. 


00:18:38:13 - 00:19:17:20

Kyra Bobak: And there are actually two levels. So there is one level and that occurs at the building with the building administrator in which they will meet monthly with their building administrator for three years on different professional development topics. They'll also have the opportunity to visit one another's classrooms, visit classrooms of veteran teachers, debrief on what they observed in those classrooms, and align it to their instructional practices. And then the next silo of our program occurs more at the central office district level in which we have a three year program. 


00:19:18:02 - 00:20:03:02

Kyra Bobak: And so there are several sessions that are offered each year and some are mandatory, you know, that are kind of focused around mandates of important information that one needs to know as an educator and then others that are optional. And those are sessions that are focused on professional development opportunities. And that's where I say we really focus on kind of strengthening that culture of professional growth. So they have an opportunity to select if we have an experienced teacher come from either a district in Pennsylvania or from other out of state, you know, they might not have the same interest as someone who just recently graduated. 


00:20:03:27 - 00:20:26:15

Kyra Bobak: So we like we try to view it in the same way we view it with our learners. Everybody's kind of in a different stage in their learning. And so where they feel they like to grow. And at the same point of adding that personalization, we also do believe that there are certain things that we want to kind of bring them up to speed to, so to speak Seneca Valley wise.  


00:20:26:17 - 00:21:06:25

Kyra Bobak: So there's things that we value in our professional development opportunities that we have offered to our teachers that are currently working. And we want to make sure that they come in and are afforded the same opportunities. So they get to that same level of knowledge and our practices that align to kind of our mission and our vision. So I think it's a really solid program. So you have the building level, you have the central office meetings. They also assigned a mentor and a mentor would be someone that has several years of experience, is a veteran teacher. 


00:21:07:19 - 00:21:47:09

Kyra Bobak: A tenured teacher and they meet with them. You know, at the beginning, maybe two times a month toward the end, that might go down to one time a month. There are several topics that they covered that they are required to cover during their meetings. And they are they have reflective pieces to those meetings that they need to meet and reflect upon. And and so that's part of the process too. And they could observe that colleague as well. And so there's a lot of benefits to having someone right there next to them, whether it's across the hallway, next door, that on a regular basis, even if they're not formally meeting, they can meet informally and. 


00:21:48:25 - 00:21:57:24

Kyra Bobak: there are there needs to be addressed, and so that could be. Procedures, policies, practices, instructural strategies, whatever to support them. 


00:21:58:22 - 00:22:03:09

Jeff Krakoff: So it's like every detail has been thought out here, which is awesome. 


00:22:04:22 - 00:22:43:05

Kyra Bobak: And I would also add to once they are hired beyond the induction program, and that is just to give them a strong foundation as a new hire. There are opportunities to participate and district level committee meetings, curriculum meetings there, summer academy offerings. You know, we really the board strongly the school board of directors strongly supports professional development opportunity for conferences, you know, online jobs, and they have an opportunity to even pursue higher education and pursue another degree. 


00:22:43:07 - 00:23:02:13

Kyra Bobak: And that is supported as well through tuition reimbursement. So there's a lot of benefits. We are definitely developed a culture of learning that we, like I said, take pride in, and we believe that never stops. And so we've got to start them off on the right foot. But it continues even throughout their years as they continue into their tenure. 


00:23:02:27 - 00:23:19:29

Jeff Krakoff: All right. One final question. So you're you're a seasoned HR professional. You've been involved in a lot of interviews over the years. Just how many general tips, especially for new teachers, recent graduates, as they enter the interviewing process? 


00:23:23:05 - 00:23:55:10

Kyra Bobak: I do one thing when I talk to graduates, and it's it's obviously it's not uncommon then for them to be nervous or a little anxious and not know what to expect. So I think what helps with that is kind of doing your homework. So just prior to the interview and so trying to really think and brainstorm about what kind of questions might be asked and then jotting down your responses in general terms and general. 


00:23:55:12 - 00:24:30:11

Kyra Bobak: But get specific. I always tell candidates that that is when you come to the table and you're meeting with an administrator. It's such a brief period of time and it is that one time, one time opportunity for you to share everything about, you know, kind of your knowledge, your experiences, your philosophies and most importantly, your instructional practices. So try to think of examples that are specific. If you do not have a lot of experience and you are newly graduated to think back to your student teaching. 


00:24:30:25 - 00:25:04:08

Kyra Bobak: Think back to things that you have observed from other adults that you have worked with while you were going through the program or things that you learned from a conference that maybe you didn't have a chance to implement, that you certainly have a strong understanding of and you could apply when it comes to maybe assessment or how you would embed with technology or how would you handle a classroom behavior. So kind of just forecasting what you think might be asked and that prep work is so important. 


00:25:05:16 - 00:25:44:01

Kyra Bobak: I also kind of say that it's always a fine line where, you know, you want it, you want to say so much, you want your answers and responses to be long enough so that you give enough detail. So but not so long enough that you you're getting lost and not knowing what you're saying and providing with information. So so just being kind of concise in your answers and projecting yourself into that position. So if it is in grade level or a class that you haven't had experience, then, you know, think about, OK, I've never and this capacity. 


00:25:44:11 - 00:25:59:02

Kyra Bobak: But if I am to be the candidate choice, this is what I will do. So it's always good to put yourself in that seat like you're already doing the job. And that that's successful tip that I think we find when people end up with said the position. 


00:26:00:07 - 00:26:19:29

Jeff Krakoff: Great, great advice and so much good information. So if anybody is listening and you are interested, go to the district website. You'll see all the positions. Thanks again so much, Kyra. Appreciate the time and hope you enjoy the rest of the summer and have a successful hiring season. 


00:26:21:17 - 00:26:29:21

Kyra Bobak: Well, thank you for taking the time to talk with me. I was I'm happy to share out our practices and our procedures. And you enjoy the summer as well. 


00:26:30:03 - 00:26:31:03

Jeff Krakoff: All right. Take care. 


00:26:31:27 - 00:26:32:21

Kyra Bobak: OK, take care.