Local school district desperate for substitute teachers, emergency trainings in place

SUNNYSIDE, WA — The Sunnyside School District is one of many school districts across the state struggling to find enough substitute teachers to fill classrooms.

The district raised its salary by nine percent and lowered the age to replace elementary schools at 20. They also have emergency replacement training for people to replace the next day.

Since August, the district has welcomed 21 new submarines through emergency training, but it hasn’t been enough.

When teachers are sick, other teachers or the school administration use their preparation time to fill in. That grading and planning time now reduces family time at home, said second-grade teacher at Chief Kamiakin Elementary School, Danielle Weets.

“Mentally and physically it’s tough,” Weets said, “teaching is a bit tougher, because it’s not quite what [teachers] have enjoyed before.

Once a preparation period is over, another teacher or administrator takes over.

Students may see multiple teacher figures in a given day.

For Karie Baker, a fourth-grade teacher, substitute days are almost like lost learning days.

“Kids get upset with all the changes and don’t calm down as easily, so not much is done,” Baker said.

Often, teachers are told they have to help fill classrooms on the morning of a co-ed teacher, MaryBeth Zins. She said that every day is a surprise for teachers and students.

“Kids start the day, when they have a substitute, feeling a little anxious, which can be difficult for kids to learn,” Zins said.

Zins said most teachers feel guilty taking time off when needed. She said it was difficult to schedule appointments for the vaccine, the booster or even the eye surgery.

“I didn’t even attend my own family’s Thanksgiving because I was kind of recovering from eye surgery,” Zins said.

Interested in becoming a substitute? Click on here.

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