Talk and Chalk: Getting to Know Staples’ Substitute Teachers


Vozzo and Gates: two substitute teachers at Staples.

“Yes! No work today,” is what Bennett Propp ’15 exclaims as he sees the substitute teacher walk into the room. The same scenario occurs in classic movies, with many substitutes portrayed as nervous and disheveled. The Staples scenario is quite different because students are not the savages that they are portrayed as on the big screen. However depending on the structure that that the teacher provides in their lesson plan, one extended period could turn into what seems like a lifetime.

Cyndianne Gates began her career in business and sales. After pondering how to continue her career, it seemed that teaching would be the next step. “Substituting was a good adjustment into teaching and seemed to be a good middle ground,” Gates said.  Making it from middle school subbing,and finally to high school Gates has made her way through the system and has found her niche at Staples. Although becoming a permanent has been a thought, Gates has enjoyed her time, “becoming part of the community.”

James Vozzo has taken to substitute teaching with the intent to become a classroom math teacher.  “It’s practice in classroom management and experience in an educational setting,” Vozzo said. His substitute experience so far at Staples has been enjoyable. “Everyday is a different experience because of the class I’m covering and the different personalities and talents of the students. It’s rewarding and fun at the same time,” Vozzo said.

Although both Vozzo and Gates have had overall positive experiences to date at Staples, there are many challenges as a sub. “When students come in happy to have a sub it makes me worry,” Gates said. From Gates’ experience the freshman classes tend to take advantage of having a sub, but the seniors know her and respect her level of strictness.

Vozzo’s slight concerns arise when he is taken out of his comfort zone and away from math. Not knowing the subject can be uncomfortable when coming into a class full of unknown students. But teachers have been very understanding. To settle this concern, “most of the time teachers leave pretty thorough plans that allow me to feel confident with the subject matter,” Vozzo said.

Gates’ key to surviving as a substitute is to be flexible. “You need to have a sense of humor to get through the day. Students need to do their work without making it a painful process and everything turns out okay.”