WKU students fill-in as long term substitute teachers amid pandemic

WKU Students Able to Help School Districts by Being Long-Term Substitute Teachers
Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 10:03 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Last month, the Kentucky Educational Standards Board approved a waiver to allow education majors who are eligible to serve as long-term substitute teachers, or emergency substitute teachers in place of their student teaching requirement.

This has helped many local districts, including Warren County, navigate yet another unusual year caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year has been quite a different dynamic,” Principal of Rockfield Elementary Monte Cassady said.

Rockfield Elementary currently has three WKU students serving as long-term substitute teachers in various departments. Principal Cassady spoke on the need for these students to step in.

“There’s a couple of things that have occurred, one, obviously, the COVID situation has created some issues with us finding long-term subs,” he explained. These substitute teachers may fill-in if a staff member is asked to quarantine. Cassady also said sometimes it is difficult to find substitute teachers during a regular year.

“The other part is with a lot of the federal funding that’s come through, we were able to pick up additional staffing,” Cassady went on to say. “So, with that, each school picked up about two to three people right off the bat.”

One of the WKU students filling in as an emergency sub is Will Downing. He is currently filling in for a teacher on maternity leave and is set to graduate in December.

“It’s something I would have never imagined, but knowing that I am able to help out a school that needs it, they’re helping me so much,” Downing said. “Not only am I learning from it, but I feel impacted by the school.”

Everyday Downing teaches 90 fifth graders, with about 30 in each class. He said though it was a bit challenging at first, getting used to managing a classroom, the experience has been rewarding.

“It’s different, but you’re learning so much from it,” he said. “You’re taking so much from it every day and I’m just very, very grateful that I’m able to step in this role at this point.”

Though these WKU students aren’t working directly with a teacher, they still have a lot of support around them.

“They’ve got mentors, both in the building and outside of the building,” Cassady said. “Being able to work with kids directly developing lesson plans, assessments and analyzing assessments, everything else, it’s been, it’s been a neat process to watch, and the young people have done phenomenal.”

Most of these emergency substitutes will stay working at their schools through the end of the semester.

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