Natarsha Williams was familiar with working with children when she applied to be a substitute teacher with Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) a few years ago. While living in Washington, D.C., she worked as an instructional assistant (IA) and coached cheerleading. A substitute who works at multiple elementary schools — including Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy and Dr. James Craik elementary schools — she enjoys working with young children.

You never know what or who you will get walking into an elementary school classroom. “You have to have to understand that being in the classroom, you’re dealing with multiple personalities at once,” Williams said.

Natarsha Williams and Grayson Hoffman high five during a break at Dr. James Craik Elementary School. Williams has been substituting with Charles County Public Schools for the past few years. Credit: Charles County Public Schools

Coming into a school for an assignment always changes day-to-day. A substitute fills in where there’s a need, goes where they are needed. “Helping where needed isn’t always what you choose, but there’s a need and maybe you can offer a child something that they’re missing out on,” Williams said.

Nancy Lytle has been subbing for eight years, spending the past year at Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Elementary School. Most recently she has been in the first grade classroom. It’s a good fit for Lytle who said first grade is her favorite grade to teach. “I feel that first grade is where the foundation is set for a lot of the learning that takes place.”

Nancy Lytle has been a substitute teacher with Charles County Public Schools for the past eight years. This year at Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer Elementary School she is teaching a first grade class. Credit: Charles County Public Schools

Having a set assignment for a period is a plus, but those who substitute are used to being flexible and prepared to tackle something new for the day.

“I sub at Dr. Mudd nearly every day,” Darlene Penny, a retired CCPS secretary, said. “However, I may not know my assignment until I arrive for the day.” Penny worked for the FBI before taking a job with CCPS. She was first a substitute before getting a job as a secretary at Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School. Retiring from the position after 15 years, she couldn’t stay away from Dr. Mudd and returned to the school to substitute. That was four years ago. “I enjoy subbing,” Penny said, adding that she is passionate about being in prekindergarten and kindergarten classrooms and seeing the students grow up. “It’s refreshing hearing children speak to me and hug me because they remember me subbing in their classrooms.”

After retiring as a secretary at Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School, Darlene Penny wasn’t ready to stop helping at the school. She applied to be a substitute at Dr. Mudd and recently worked with kindergarten students on their Thanksgiving placemats. She’s pictured with students Jeremiah McKee, left, Shai Walker, Nyomi Cahill and Johanna Archila Ochoa. Credit: Charles County Public Schools

Substitute Educators Day was celebrated Nov. 18 as part of National Education Week. To work as a substitute teacher in CCPS, applicants must be 18 and older, have a high school diploma or GED, and provide references on the application. After the verification of references, candidates complete a four-hour orientation course. All new hires to CCPS undergo a background check and fingerprinting.

Substitute teachers who work at least 12 assignments in a month for CCPS earn a $150 incentive that is included in the paycheck covering the end of the prior month. In recent months, 126 substitute teachers earned the incentive — 53 in September and 73 in October. Four substitutes worked 20 days in September, 25 worked between 16 and 19 days, and 24 clocked 12 to 15 days during the first full month of school.

In October, five substitute teachers logged 20 days, 26 clocked in at 16 to 19 days, and 42 worked between 12 to 15 days.

Click here to apply to be a substitute teacher and complete the online application. The substitute office is open from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, at 301-934-7233. To learn more about the substitute teacher requirements, click here. 

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