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Substitute Teacher Coverage Remains Issue

Alex Greene
Due to the holiday season and teacher absences, there has been a shortage of substitutes. However, teachers and paraprofessionals have been helping sub for classes, and more people have recently been added to the active substitute list at Town Hall.

Every student can appreciate those days that come a couple times a year when a substitute teacher walks through the door of the classroom. This excitement does not necessarily say anything about the student’s opinions of their assigned teacher but does add an aspect of excitement to a normal day of school and possibly means less work for the period.

Over the past couple of weeks, stories have been circulating through the hallways about classes that were left unattended. The Westport Public Schools’ Director of Human Resources Marge Cion says, “Substitute coverage has, from time to time, been an issue throughout the district.”

According to sophomore Sarah Ellman ’15, no teachers or substitutes showed up to an extended sophomore U.S. history class this past week. “I had U.S. and my teacher was sick, but a sub never showed up, so after minutes of waiting we just decided to put on a movie for the period,” said Ellman. “We did this because we were all just sitting around, so we put on a movie to keep us entertained.”

Another story of a missing substitute comes from an AP Literature class where the English department head, Julie Heller, acted as the substitute for a period. According to Sydney Bibicoff ’13, Heller explained the assignment for the day to the class, and the period continued normally. Students didn’t even know the position that Heller held until they asked.

The Westport Public Schools website is currently advertising vacancies for a long-term science substitute at Coleytown Middle School and district wide permanent building substitutes.

At Staples there are several familiar faces that are seen when classroom teachers are absent. James Goodrich, James Vozzo and Cari Moore are currently the only full-time substitutes at Staples, but there have been too many absent teachers for the three to be sufficient.

Considering the current state of employment in the United States, it seems strange that there would be a lack of people available to fill open positions, but some of the reasons for lack of substitutes do not necessarily reflect a bad economy. One of the biggest reasons for the small numbers is the season, said Cion. During the holidays substitutes have other commitments and are less likely to accept a position. “We are constantly analyzing the data we have on substitute coverage to attempt to understand which absences are not covered by daily substitutes,” Cion said. “We are using this data to attempt to decrease the number of positions that are not covered.”

According to Goodrich, he and the other permanent substitutes cover one teacher per day but might sub for two or three teachers during times when meetings are going on.

In an effort to compensate for the lack of substitutes in the school system, everyone is pitching in to help. “At Staples, teachers may agree to cover a class if they are available during a particular period. Also, in other buildings, some of our paraprofessionals are certified teachers, so they may be asked to cover on a day when we can’t find daily substitutes,” Cion said. This would explain why students have been seeing substitutes that they don’t recognize.

Westport is not alone in their search for substitutes. “We have [also] surveyed neighboring districts and have discovered that they are also having difficulties covering all of their teachers’ absences,” said Cion. The Board of Education has confirmed that Westport pays daily substitutes a rate that is competitive with other districts in our area.

Things are looking up though for the future of substitute positions at Staples. More people have recently been added to the active substitute list at Town Hall, so there is a larger pool of potential substitutes who could accept a position. Even Goodrich is not feeling an effect from the apparent lack of substitute teachers. “Occasionally, there are no assignments, and, occasionally, there are too few subs available, but, generally, the need and the coverage work well,” said Goodrich.


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About the Contributors
Rose Propp, Photographry Editor
Rose Propp ’13 is simply artistic. Various forms of art have always been in her life, but nowadays she is focusing her time on her true artistic passions: journalism and photography. This is Propp’s second year on the Inklings staff, and she is this year’s photography editor. Inklings isn’t the only place where Propp demonstrates her interest in photography. She has a photo blog where she posts the best photos that she takes. Check out Propp describes herself as having a love for journalism. “[Journalism] allows me to express myself in ways I have never seen in myself before,” Propp said. Aside from journalism and photography, Propp enjoys long distance running, math, and economics. She frequently takes long runs on the beach and likes economics because she finds real world applications of concepts very interesting. Propp also was a musician. She has played violin, trumpet, piano, and guitar. In fact, her mother is a music teacher at Greens Farms School. Even though Propp has stopped playing music for the likes of journalism and photography, it is quite apparent that artistic ability runs in the Propp family.
Jamie Wheeler-Roberts, News Editor
Jamie Wheeler – Roberts, who loves to write and edit for the paper, has a passion for journalism as well as something else. Jamie is a girl who along with loving journalism loves to travel.  Because her mom works for an airline, flying alone at a young age is natural to her. She’s traveled across the world, from Europe to Australia, and has plenty of stories to go with it. “I like going to new places and seeing how different others live their lives compared to ours,” said Jamie ‘13. Jamie is still aspiring to travel more, as she looks forward to hopefully attending college in London. Besides getting to live in a foreign country, she can also focus on her interest in Social Studies which she has indulged over the years by taking courses at Princeton during the summer.  At college though, she wants to focus on her specific passion for International Relations. Jamie has been active in clubs such as JSA, the debate team and student ambassador.  However, during her last few years at Staples she has spent more time at Inklings where she likes making the paper.
Alex Greene, Photo Editor
She may have been waived out of the Introduction to Journalism class, but Photo Editor Alex Greene ’13 is no beginner. Fresh from a National Geographic Student Expedition trip to Peru, Greene plans to bring the expertise she practiced this summer to the front pages of Inklings during the school year. When she’s not snapping photos, Greene enjoys participating in other unique activities that not everyone can say they have tried in their lives. As an avid member of the Staples Swim Team and a co-captain of the Girls’ Water Polo Team, the leadership that a role on Inklings requires will be no stranger to her. “What most people don’t know about water polo is that it is actually extremely aggressive,” she said. “We even have drills where we practice appropriate ways to kick people.” Greene plans to bring those fighting qualities to the Inklings staff for the 2012-2013 school year. Eager when faced with new challenges, she plans to tackle what the advanced class entails with the same motivation that she approaches the pool with. The student body should be prepared for a shock when they see Greene’s world-class pictures grace the pages of Inklings throughout the school year. She may be new to the staff, but she is far from inexperienced.

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