No shortage of substitutes in local schools

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Sarah Nagem
These days, it seems, everybody wants to be a substitute teacher.
The Rowan-Salisbury School System got so many applications this year, officials decided to put a cap on the number of substitutes it employs.
The system stopped hiring substitutes after they had employed 500, said Delores Morris, assistant superintendent of human resources.
Last school year, she said, the system had about 350 substitutes.
The increased interest in working as a stand-in teacher is good news for schools.
“We have not had a day this year that we have not had a substitute in the classroom,” Morris said.
But she said the situation also signals a gloomy local economy.
“There are people hunting jobs,” Morris said.
For many people, subbing can be the ideal job. Certified substitutes ó those who have been certified to teach in North Carolina ó earn $90 a day. Non-certified substitutes earn $69 a day.
It’s a good gig for 30-year-old Dionn Adkins, who works as a substitute teacher during the day while she takes evening classes at Catawba College.
Adkins stood in for a fifth-grade teacher at North Rowan Elementary last week.
Working as a substitute teacher is a big career change for Adkins, who used to be a corrections officer.
She decided she wants to become a children’s counselor, so she applied to be a substitute teacher to gain experience working with children.
The job is convenient for her, she said.
For Myrna Crocker, a retired teacher, continuing to work as a substitute makes her life more routine.
Crocker retired in 2004 after more than 30 years of teaching. She had spent the last six years of her career at North Rowan Elementary.
But Crocker said she still enjoys the classroom.
“It gets me out,” she said last week while filling in for a fifth-grade teacher at North.
After lunch, she gave the kids candy while they watched “Little House on the Prairie” as part of their history lesson.
Crocker said she doesn’t mind stepping into another teacher’s classroom for a day or so.
“It’s always a challenge,” she said. “I’m always learning, too.”
Crocker works as a substitute about three days a week. But she could work every day if she wanted, she said.
An automated phone system calls substitutes in the mornings. They can choose to work, or they can stay in bed.
“That’s why it’s the perfect job,” Crocker said. “If you don’t want to go in, you don’t have to.”
Having a substitute has some perks for students, too.
The fifth-graders Crocker taught last week said they they get excited when their regular teacher is out.
“We go out to recess early, and we get treats,” 10-year-old Jordan Morrison said.
School principals have to make arrangements for classrooms when there aren’t enough substitutes to go around. Mondays and Fridays are when substitutes are needed most, Morris said.
Kannapolis City Schools isn’t hurting for substitutes or any employee positions, said Dr. Annie Pickett, director of personnel and administrative services.
“We have seen an increase in the number of calls, especially, for all applicants,” Pickett said.
As the unemployment rate rises, she said, more people turn to the school systems when looking for work.
“It gives people a place to work and feel like they’re accomplishing something,” Morris said.