Lack of substitute teachers at ELHS leads to turmoil in classes
Nationwide. Statewide. Regionwide. The sub shortage has struck East Lyme.
The lack of subs impacts all at ELHS – teachers and students alike. Librarian Jeannine Barber has experienced the brunt of these effects. With no space in the commons, up to six classes at a time come to the library with no teacher to watch them; this causes supervision duties to fall on the library staff.
The library staff specializes in preparing the library for the use of students, not necessarily watching over the students. Because of this, Ms. Barber has experienced job stifling responsibilities.
“It’s a huge influx. It’s been a quick, big change as far as how many unsupervised classes of kids have come in,” said Ms. Barber.
During this time, the lunch block is when the majority of kids come in. Normally, classes will go to the commons, but since there’s no space in the commons due to lunch, these classes without subs go to the library. Even though the library receives classes most blocks, they are sure to receive classes during block three.
“It makes sense that students would come here when there’s no sub, but there’s not enough people to monitor them. That’s the big issue,” said Ms. Barber.
Teachers have had to watch kids during their preparation blocks.
Teachers Union resident Scott Mahon considers prep time to be defined as an “undisturbed and self directed time” to work on their classroom and assignments, rather than to get pulled for additional duties.
“Teachers have a job to do, and preparation time means preparation time. It doesn’t mean that they have free time,” Mr. Mahon said.
Mr. Mahon thinks students are experiencing the most harm from the lack of subs and overflow in the library.
“There’s organization within the classroom. It’s a lot harder to be put into a commons area or library area without somebody supervising that you’re getting the work done. It doesn’t help teachers, but it’s most harmful to students,” said Mr. Mahon.
Junior Sara Tamura has been moved to the commons multiple times, specifically during her pre-engineering class where she has felt the greatest impact.
“We didn’t have access to any of our materials or projects, or anything like that, because the classroom was locked. It’s kind of upsetting when we don’t have a sub because we don’t get to do the work that we have to do, especially if something is due,” said Tamura.
Due to differing factors like pay, COVID-19, and more teacher absences, finding subs is a “competitive business.”
“We have one or two permanent substitutes right now, but maybe we should have more; maybe we should pay substitutes to be in the building at all times. I don’t necessarily know what the answer is, but it’s bad and we have to figure out a way to work through it,” said Mr. Mahon.
History teacher Jennifer Raub and science teacher Lisa Marie Miodonka have come to the library during block three to help supervise the students. This change has been instituted to help out Ms. Barber.
“I do think it’s going to be really helpful when Ms. Raub and Ms. Miodonka come to block three, but that’s still only two teachers to watch four, five, six classes. We’re trying to work it out. I think it’s going to be a big improvement for sure,” said Ms. Barber.
For Ms. Barber, the sub shortage is more than watching numerous classes of students.
“It has really impacted the energy in the library, and it’s important to be mindful of that moving forward and considering what we want to focus on and build, and what we want the library to be used for,” said Ms. Barber.