Northeast, George Fox welcome substitutes at recruiting meeting Teachers told filling in is one of toughest jobs

August 16, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

To some students, Carolyn DeRidder is "Mom."

"They'll ask me for lunch money, at which point I'll say, 'You should've asked dad,' " she joked.

But DeRidder knows her job is no laughing matter. She is a substitute teacher.

Wednesday, she joined six other men and women at a recruiting meeting for substitute teachers at George Fox Middle School in Pasadena. The session was arranged by assistant principals at George Fox and Northeast Senior High School.

Craig Reynolds, an assistant principal at Northeast, called substitute teaching one of the hardest jobs in education.

"Always remember that they're going to test you," he told the seven candidates. "That's what makes your job so difficult."

Although the county public schools system does not keep records on how often substitutes are called, the system had 1,500 teachers for 118 schools to choose from for the 1995-1996 school year, said Gayle Liembach, a personnel clerk with the Board of Education.

But the number of substitute teachers has been decreasing every year, said George Fox Assistant Principal Doris Shaneor. Many substitutes find other jobs or are wooed away by other schools for full-time positions.

George Fox has a list with at least 10 names, said Frank Chilipko, an assistant principal. Chilipko said he'd feel more comfortable if he had at least 20 names.

The idea of $40 a day in pay, though, isn't much of a recruiting tool, he said.

Carol Thornburg, an administrator at Northeast, said the school has about 16 names.

"But you can never have enough substitutes," she said.

If schools can't get substitute teachers, the other teachers have to pull double duty, Chilipko said. To cover for an absent teacher, 11 other teachers would be called on, he said.

Besides the modest day's pay, substitutes must also consider the students themselves: Many ignore substitutes; some taunt them.

DeRidder, who has taught at Chesapeake Bay Middle School, Annapolis High School and Broadneck Senior High School, said she once wrote disciplinary notes for two misbehaving students at Annapolis. Later, the students confronted her and brazenly told her that nothing had been done to them, she said.

"The kids know that we're subs," she said. "So it's at the point where they're not sure if we have the power, and a lot of them don't care."

Walter Brzeczko, a 48-year-old Pasadena resident who works at a newspaper distribution plant and taught two years ago, said he isn't concerned about disobedient students.

"I'll just come in with my GI haircut and look mean," he joked.

To be accepted as a substitute, candidates who have completed 60 college credits must attend an orientation session at Board of Education headquarters in Annapolis and pay for a criminal background check.

Both schools are organizing packets to help the substitutes that contain names of the assistant principals, a map of the school and instructions for the entire school day.

The sales pitch won over several potential substitutes.

Stephanie Hein, a Towson State University student studying secondary education, said she was enticed by the chance to apply in a classroom what she's learned from books and lectures.

"I'm just looking for some experience in the field," said the 23-year-old from Glen Burnie. "I want to get a familiarity with the children and the classrooms and learn from the teachers."

And DeRidder signed up for a fourth consecutive year.

The 43-year-old Pasadena mother of four said she teaches because she enjoys walking into a classroom with her solutions to difficult algebra equations and grammatical problems.

"I'm able to approach it differently because I'm not in the same mind-set as the teacher," she said.

Pub Date: 8/16/96

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