FISHERS — As COVID-19 infects schools like never before, administrators are doing everything they can to keep learning in-person.
Hamilton Southeastern Schools Superintendent Dr. Yvonne Stokes put out a video message to parents, in part, asking them to get certifedf and help fill in as substitute teachers.
A school spokesperson said Dr. Stokes has made this request before.
”It’s not a problem that’s unique to HSE schools, districts everywhere are facing a shortage of subs,” said Kim Lippe, HSE assistant superintendent of staff and student services.
Lippe said they have watched the problem get even worse since coming back from the holiday break.
In the first two weeks back, HSE schools have needed an average of 144 subs each day. Overall, they have been able to fill less than half of those positions. Compared to the last two weeks before holiday break, HSE needed 110 subs per day, and were filling 67% of those spots.
This means teachers filling in during their plan periods, along with librarians, counselors and administrators stepping in as well.
”The need is probably greater than we have ever seen,” Lippe said.
Lippe said they’re looking for any way to help fill these gaps, and that’s where parents come in.
”It’s a great way to get plugged in, just to give back to the community, give back to the schools,” said Lippe.
She said they also do their best to work around parents’ schedules.
”They can work for one day, they can work for half a day,” Lippe said.
And also work to accommodate what grade level you want to sub at.
”If we can plug you into a position in an elementary school, or if you prefer secondary, so we even try to meet the needs of the subs and their interests,” Lippe said.
To apply, parents would have to fill out an application, get a background check, have at least 30 credit hours from a college or university and go through some training to show you what a day as a teacher would be like. A substitute makes $85 for a day of work.
”If you have any concerns about subbing or what it’s like then that training piece will help ease your mind and give you that confidence to step into a classroom,” she said.
Clint Wilson has been through that process.
”My first time was late in 2020 when they were really struggling to find subs and there was concern that they may not be able to keep schools open,” Wilson said.
Wilson has two kids who go to HSE, both are at Geist Elementary School.
Wilson said he subs a few days every three to four weeks, and it fits around his normal job.
”I’m only missing at most a couple hours of my work day if I come in and fill in in the morning,” he said.
Wilson said he prefers for his kids to be learning in person, not virtual, and sees subbing as a way he can help make sure schools stay in person.
”When I can take a moment away from a day job and help make sure students stay in school and have a good experience I’m happy to do it,” he said.
For parents who might be nervous or scared, like Wilson was at first, he said it’s easier than you think.
”It really is far easier than I anticipated and far more rewarding than I would have anticipated as well,” he said.
Lippe said the first step if you’re interested in subbing at HSE is going to the website and clicking on “Careers” from there you’ll find information about becoming a substitute teacher.