Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas celebrates the key role of substitute teachers

They are former judges, NASA employees, lawyers, principals and teachers. They can be ready with as little as 10 minutes' notice and stay for three weeks at a time if necessary. They are Pinellas County's substitute teachers, an often-overlooked but crucial part of the county's school system.

To celebrate their efforts, Pinellas County senior human resource specialist Melissa Hill and director of human resources Seymour Brown hosted an awards reception Tuesday at Frontier Elementary School. Nearly 100 substitutes attended, each nominated by his or her school for demonstrating excellence in the unusual craft.

"They're kind of like our unsung heroes in the district, so we're excited to do something for them," Hill said.

The county's substitute teacher force totals 1,600 teachers, up from 1,200 last year. On a typical day, between 600 and 750 subs are scattered in classrooms throughout Pinellas. According to Brown, the county is revamping its substitute service to increase the fill rate, or how many subs show up on a given day versus the amount of openings. Pinellas' current fill rate is above 90 percent for the first time.

"It's disruptive when substitutes aren't there in the classroom," Brown said. "That's why we have such a huge initiative to make sure that we're running as close to 100 percent as we can."

Often, the turnover rate is high among substitutes because many use the job as a transitional step instead of a career. To combat this, Pinellas is using a combination of increased hiring and technology. The district uses both a mobile and a Web-based app to let teachers and substitutes notify one another of need and availability. The district also advertises for substitutes on its website, as opposed to solely through a substitute service.

The pay varies, depending on a substitute teacher's education level. Those with associate's degrees earn $9.29 an hour, while subs with bachelor's degrees are paid $10 an hour.

Bettie Wickersham of Largo just finished her 17th year as a sub. She is one of a few substitutes who gets personal calls from teachers.

Giving more individualized attention for students who are struggling is what draws her to substitute teaching. A self-proclaimed farm girl who "was never supposed to make it" in education, Wickersham takes a tough-love approach with her students.

"I proved them wrong," she tells them. "Now you prove someone wrong. You do the best you can to the best of your ability, and you will succeed."

Malena Carollo can be reached at mcarollo@tampabay.com or (727)893-8215.

Pinellas celebrates the key role of substitute teachers 06/18/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 12:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rubio: Critics distorting facts on Senate health care bill

    Blogs

    Sen. Marco Rubio this morning defended the Senate GOP health care proposal -- though still not saying definitively he's in support -- and accused critics of distorting facts about the number of people who could lose coverage.

  2. Florida issues school grades: F's down, A's and B's up

    Blogs

    Florida's school grades showed marked improvement in 2016-17, according to the results released Wednesday morning.

    Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart
  3. 'Big Bang Theory' star Johnny Galecki loses home to California wildfire

    Blogs

    Johnny Galecki, star of the Big Bang Theory, lost his ranch to a large California fire.

     

  4. Dali a father? He would need to have sex first

    Opinion

    One of the most influential artists of the 20th century, 28 years dead, is about to be pulled from the grave to settle a paternity claim. The case could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

    Horst P. Horst's portrait of Salvador Dali from the 1930s. [Image from the Dali Museum.]
  5. Aramis Ayala defends stance against death penalty: 'I did what I believe was proper'

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Aramis Ayala, the elected Orlando prosecutor who refuses to seek the death penalty, defended her actions Wednesday as she faced a flurry of hostile questions from Florida Supreme Court justices.

    Orlando prosecutor Aramis Ayala, far right, said she was "very well pleased" with her lawyer's case. "I violated no laws." [STEVE BOUSQUET | Tampa Bay Times]