Supply and demand

October 24, 2013

When Susan Caschera, a 24-year old from Woodbridge, Ont., graduated from teachers' college last year, she knew that finding a full-time position might take a while.

Susan volunteered with Girl Guides of Canada, her local church and in schools. "Teaching is my passion. Working with kids in any capacity kept me in the teaching head space and helped me put some of the skills I learned in teachers' college into practice," she says.

"It took me one year just to get an interview with the school board to be placed on the occasional teacher list," she continues. "When I got the call, I was working at my part-time clerical job. I was so excited. I called everyone I knew to share the exciting news."

Susan made the occasional list last June, and immediately started taking placements. She says she's been lucky because she gets called on a steady, regular basis.

Each evening, between 6pm and 10pm, Susan waits for the call from the board's automated system telling her where she's been placed for the next day. If she doesn't get the call in the evening, then she knows there's a good chance it'll come between 6am and 9am the next morning.

"If I get a call to go to a new school, I have a hard time sleeping the night before. What will the students be like? Will I be able to find my way around? What should I expect?"

Once she arrives, and the bell rings, her nerves settle and she hits her stride. She considers the exposure to the vast array of GTA schools a learning experience unto itself. While she hones her teaching skills and makes connections across the board, there was an element of occasional teaching that caught her off guard.

"It took me a bit by surprise when I saw the deduction for my pension off of my first pay cheque. It never occurred to me that without a contract in place or a full-time position that I would be paying into the pension plan," she admits.

"But I know that every little bit counts. It's better to start building toward my future now, rather than putting it off."

Every little bit counts

Susan is right in her thinking that every little bit counts. Every day that an occasional teacher works counts toward a retirement benefit. And it doesn't take long before the credit in the plan starts to add up.

Last year, 15% of the members that joined Teachers' were 24 years old. On average, they worked 50 days throughout the school year. Even by working roughly one-quarter of the school year, those members will have earned a pension benefit value of about $1,600.