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What one thing could Pasco schools do to welcome substitute teachers?: A sub speaks out

Pasco County letters to the editor for Oct. 11

Re: Pasco schools struggle to find substitute teachers | Oct. 4 story

While reading an articleabout how Pasco County is planning to increase its guest teacher population, I was encouraged by several of the ideas the district was discussing, among them increasing guest teacher pay. I must say, as a substitute, I would really appreciate that.

I graduated from Land O’ Lakes High School in 2018. When it came time to find a job while attending the University of South Florida, my first thought was to be a sub.

I always tell students that it is the perfect job for me. I am a sleep-away camp staffer in the summer, so classroom management and helping kids comes naturally to me.

But every two weeks, when my paycheck comes in, it’s hard to get past the little voice in my head that tells me how much more money I would make somewhere else. It is the love of the students that keeps me going.

While an increase in pay would be wonderful, I understand why that is difficult. I have always wished they had an additional pay scale that gave more compensation because I hold an associate’s degree. The current scale only has high school graduate and bachelor’s degree levels.

The other idea was to give guest teachers free meal cards for the cafeteria. Adult lunches cost $4, which is not a lot, but feels like it when it is coming out of the $65 a day I make.

One suggestion that I strongly disagree with is to bring in a staffing agency like Hillsborough County did. This may not seem like a big deal, but it really would change the atmosphere.

When I was hired in Pasco County, I met with the head of the department, who valued my camp experience and the fact I came from Pasco County schools. He was connected to the district and could understand the parts I loved and the parts I thought needed improvement. He wanted to improve the experience of our students; a staffing agency will never truly understand that.

I have felt the effects of the individual schools and the district trying to be more welcoming to guest teachers. I was welcomed into lunch-break groups and invited to participate in after-school meetups with teachers. Everyone does as much as they can to make us feel welcome.

But if I were speaking before the school board, the one change I would suggest to make an even more welcoming atmosphere would be to give guest teacher full staff identification badges. Every employee at school has a badge with a picture and a name. When we step on campus, we get temporary IDs with only a name.

It would make a statement to everyone if we had personnel badges. It would mean that I am here to stay, and guest teachers would be more accessible to students we serve.

Devon Shank, Wesley Chapel