Hanover High students bond with long-term sub, petition to make her full time
An online petition created by Hanover High School students to save their substitute teacher's job had amassed nearly 1,000 signatures as of Monday morning.
A group of high school juniors launched the petition two weeks ago after connecting with their substitute math teacher, Leah Sieber, who started teaching algebra and geometry classes at the high school in October when the former teacher went on extended leave.
Jaeda Kuhn, 16, one of the students who created the petition, said she had a hard time understanding math before Sieber took over as her teacher. Her grade went up after Sieber started teaching.
Jaeda said Sieber's personality and her willingness to take extra time to work through problems with her classes made her a favorite teacher for many students.
Sieber said she believes how she treats her students allows her to connect with them. She said she doesn't expect perfection from them and tries to be understanding when it is clear a student is having a bad day.
"They are people first," she said.
Sieber said she applied for the permanent teaching position when it opened but was not given an interview. She isn't aware of any qualifications she lacked for the job, and said she doesn't apply for jobs when she knows she is missing one of the requirements.
Sieber has worked as a teacher for 17 years, including five years for the Hanover Public School District. Part of her career included a stint as a part-time administrator for a rural charter school in Loganton, Clinton County.
Hanover Superintendent John Scola declined to comment.
When Sieber's students found out she hadn't received the permanent position, Jaeda said, she and a group of her classmates joked about starting a petition. They pursued it when they realized how many other students would support the effort.
Sieber said she teared up when she first heard about the petition. Neither Sieber nor Jaeda had any expectations that the petition would gather so much support. Sieber said the response is humbling, and she is still working to digest it.
Despite the support, Sieber said she hasn't heard anything yet from district officials about the petition.
Danielle Pittenturf, 17, another student who helped create the petition, said at the very least, she hopes the petition helps Sieber secure a permanent teaching position, even if it's not at Hanover High School.
Regardless of what happens, Sieber said she is proud of her students for taking a stand and for putting in the effort to make sure their voices are heard.
"If I inspired that, I'm flattered," Sieber said.