No Substitute for a Good Substitute


Charles Burns

Secretary Jessica Genovese in despair as she tries to assign substitutes.

Charles Burns, Editor-in-Chief

At Charlottesville High School, administration is faced with a pressing problem: a pronounced lack of available substitute teachers. With stress levels rising and administration concerns piling up, the whole staff is feeling the pressure. This widespread decline in the number of available substitutes has been an ongoing problem for several years. Eric Irizarry, the principal of C.H.S., partly attributed the decline to the local economy, saying that if “the market is good and people are able to get full-time jobs, that depletes [the pool of substitutes].”

As a result of this unwelcome development, numerous teachers have had to take time out of their planning periods and lunch hours to help cover for their co-workers, due to the lack of available substitutes. Many of them volunteer before the situation gets desperate, but it can still be hard for many teachers to find room in their daily schedules to substitute. This can also be incredibly difficult for the secretary, Jessica Genovese, who said she “cries internally every day” when asked about the daily task of assigning substitutes to classes. David Dierolf, an engineering and AVID teacher at C.H.S., said “There’s an email that goes out, saying where we need subs. Typically, as a teacher with a normal load, you have one period where you’re assigned hall duty. I usually volunteer during my hall duty time.”

For adults across the building, the lack of available substitute teachers has added to already-high stress levels. Teachers who need to take a sick day or travel have to worry about the availability of substitutes for coverage, in addition to the stress of preparing lesson plans. Meanwhile, teachers who are here have their schedules and planning periods disrupted when they volunteer to substitute for their coworkers, giving them less time to get organized and grade assignments during the school day. According to Dr. Irizarry, “The lack of adults in the building strains the entire school.”

Sometimes, this lack of substitutes results in a class period not being covered at all. Sophomore Harrison Greenhoe has noticed this alarming trend, saying that his substitutes “sometimes […] don’t even show up.” It seems as if this lack of substitutes is having a noticeable impact on the productivity and organization of the whole school. This shortage negatively impacts administration, teachers, and students. The solution to this problem isn’t incredibly clear, but one is certainly needed. After all, there’s no substitute for a good substitute.