Behind the Scenes: Substitute Teachers

Lillian Yang and Rebecca Gu

Substitute teachers play a crucial role at Lexington High School. Every day, they fill in for absent teachers to ensure that all students’ learning is uninterrupted.

Each morning, substitute teachers are given schedules that indicate their assigned classes, usually ranging between various grades and subjects. Although each day is packed with different classes, substitute teachers still find their tasks rewarding and enjoyable because of the payoff they receive from helping and communicating with new students every day.

Ellen Cunniffe, an LHS substitute teacher, appreciates not only the effort and passion that students put into their schoolwork, but their respectful behavior and compassion for others.

“[My favorite part of being a substitute is] feeling like I’m contributing in some small way to the learning environment of students. I’ve worked in other school districts and they’re not the quality, the caliber, the politeness of you kids. Any time I meet an LHS parent I say, ‘You parents are doing something right; those kids are great’. They’re motivated, sweet, and polite,” Cunniffe said.

Richard Card, another substitute teacher at LHS, also expresses his gratitude for being able to connect with students by observing or engaging in conversations with them.

“My favorite thing about being a substitute teacher is having conversations with the students and really getting to know them and watching them intellectually come into their own…in terms of just talking to students about what their aspirations are and what drives them,” Card said.

Still, Card acknowledges the difficulty of initiating these conversations being a substitute teacher because he has limited time to get to know his students.

“I think it’s like walking into a room full of strangers. […] You don’t know what kids to watch out for in some cases and they don’t know you. I try to make an effort to reach out and be accessible. Because they don’t know you, you have to push it a little bit, but if you can offer help, I think that’s always good,” Card said.

Cunniffe echoes this sentiment, as she finds her job rewarding when talking to students.

“There’s an intellectual stimulation with kids especially here at this school, so that’s rewarding for me personally. I love having conversations with kids who are clearly very smart and motivated; it motivates me too,” Cunniffe said.