By Tytianna Broadwater & Annisa Ahmed
This year, the substitute teachers are different.
In the past, when teachers reported absent, district schools could call ahead to the School District of Philadelphia and could request a substitute teacher by name.
With all of the budget cuts to the School District, many teachers were let go in June of 2012. So, at the start of this year, the District has given laid off teachers the option to substitute teach where they would like. Schools can no longer make specific requests. As a result, popular substitutes like Mr. Salters, known around the school as “Pop-pop,” and Mr. Petrovsky, have rarely been at SLA this year.
“They won’t let our old, familiar subs be a part of the community anymore,” said Secretary Diane LoGiudice. “In other words, if I have a job that has been sitting out for two days, even though the subs that I know that are familiar with our school, they don’t have the option of to pick up that job and come in.”
Instead, a rotating cast of substitutes have replaced them — and many of them have a hard time getting used to SLA’s relaxed style.
“Some of these subs are old school,” Ms. Diane said. “It’s like there is no talking in the classroom, no you-can-text-your-teacher, no you-can-leave-to-go-to-the-bathroom. They start calling the office, and I have to tell them, ‘Yeah, it’s okay.’”
Senior Ryan Harris has witnessed this strict behavior first hand. Harris spends one of his bands acting as the Student Assistant Teacher for one of English-History Teacher Joshua Block’s classes.
One December 13th, Mr. Block was out with pneumonia, and Harris walked in, expecting the period to be just like any other, minus the head of classroom.
The substitute, however, wrote rules that went against the open nature of SLA, such as no hats or hoodies, no chewing gum, and no more than four people to a table. He also complained about the temperature and fiddled with the thermometer, even though there was a sign saying not to.
When the students had already signed in, the substitute then stopped class, saying that the number of people in the class did not match up with what was written on the sheet.
“He would name a student that was not [in the classroom] and then he would look at me, basically telling me to find that student,” noted Harris. “I didn’t want to cause any trouble, so I did.”
Later on, the substitute fell asleep during class. The situation was difficult for Harris to watch.
“A lot of kids that I sit near were asking me, ‘Why can’t you be our teacher?,” said Harris. “And, the whole time I didn’t know what to do. I told them that they just had to listen to what sub has to say and come to me for any academic problems.”
English Teacher Larissa Pahomov has the opposite complaint, where a substitute let several students out of her classroom to “work in the hallway.”
She jokingly suggested strategy to combat the issue of students leaving a class in bulk in the presence of a sub: “I think I will have a big sign on my desk that says ‘Only let one student out of the room at one time.’”
Junior Isabela Supovitz-Aznar, for one, missed seeing Mr. Salters, and had a bad experience with a substitute teacher who was covering for her Advisory. When she was the last person to come ask for her transpass, “He said, ‘Oh darn, I thought I had a free trans pass for the week. It sucks I don’t get to keep it.’”
As of now, there is no hope that the District will allow SLA to pick substitutes again, but the school will solve any problems as they happen.
“If there is a problem when the sub is there,” Ms. Diane said. “Stop by the office and I will handle it.”
Contact(s): email@example.com – firstname.lastname@example.org.