ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A report from the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools found that 96% of Illinois schools are reporting a substitute teacher shortage.

That is why Kelly Education partnered with Rockford Public Schools to host a substitute teachers job fair. The need reportedly has professionals from other fields trying out teaching. One applicant said that it is way out of his career field, but he is willing to try it out.

“A lot of friends said I would be a very good teacher, so I came down to check it out… and now I’m applied,” said Anthony Mencarini. “So it’s, ah, it’s really exciting.”

Mencarini is a single parent who has been unemployed for a year now. He has three degrees, speaks fluent Japanese and believes that he could reach students through his real life experiences.

“I have a great, diverse background and I have a lot to offer, and kids would probably love to hear these stories,” Mencarini said. “So I think I want to try this out and see where this goes.”

There is a real need for substitute teachers right now in nearly every district across the stateline.

“The subs weren’t able to work when the students were in the classrooms,” said Brittany Andrews, Kelly Education’s recruiting strategist. “A lot of them found different jobs and we just haven’t completely replenished that yet.”

Andrews said that becoming a substitute teacher is easier than people think. All that is needed is an associate or bachelor’s degree, depending on the type of sub, and flexibility. No experience in teaching is necessary.

“It’s really important that we keep these students in their classrooms,” Andrews said. “That we continue to support our local teachers, our local school districts.”

Mencarini is excited about this new opportunity and is looking forward to all of the challenges and rewards that this new journey brings him.

“I would like to give back and share something with them,” Mencarini said. “Obviously, hopefully teach them something that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”

Kelly Education plans on having two substitute job fairs every month until May, with the next one being on Friday, Jan. 28. More information can be found on Kelly Education’s website.