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The Little Hawk

The student news site of Iowa City High School

The Little Hawk

The student news site of Iowa City High School

The Little Hawk

Staff Profile

Sub Shortage Hits City High

When your teacher is gone, you get a substitute, but they seem to be missing, too
Mrs.+Rivers+is+one+of+the+regular+subs+to+help+fill+in+at+City+High
Logan Kelly
Mrs. Rivers is one of the regular subs to help fill in at City High

Going into the 2023-2024 school year, there has been an increase in sub shortages. This shortage has not only found its way to City High, but all across the United States. According to the Monthly Labor Review, 20% of requests for substitutes are unfilled.

Principal John Bacon is proud of all the quality subs that we do have at City, and knows that it isn’t an easy job. He also understands that, as a large school district, it is difficult to sustain a large pool of subs.

“We’re a pretty large school district, so we have a need for a pretty large pool of substitute teachers. I think finding enough people to meet that need can sometimes present challenges,” Bacon said.

One thing that could help with the shortage is making sure students treat the substitues like they would treat any other teacher. Maintaining a respectful environment is necessary in order to have a larger pool of subs.

“You know, I want them to say, ‘I’m choosing City High because I always have a great day there.’ So, in terms of what we can do, I think the way to do our part is to make sure that we treat our substitute teachers with high levels of respect and kindness, and make them feel appreciated, because we want them to keep coming back to City High,” Bacon said.

Bacon faced many hardships in his time while subbing, but that never pushed him away from doing what he loves.

“My very first day, I just graduated college. I graduated college in December, at semester break for that second semester of that year, I did substitute teaching and I subbed in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. My first day ever was at Horace Mann Elementary. I got there [and] it was for PE class and the sub-plan consisted of one word: volleyball. That’s all it said. Like, what do I do? Volleyball. So we had to figure out exactly what that meant exactly. So I just think the point is a sub needs to be able to really be flexible and be creative, so not an easy job,” Bacon said.

Bacon’s hardships throughout the early years of subbing never discouraged him to pursue teaching. Having subbed, Principal Bacon understands the difficulties of the job.

Currently at City High, Chris Jackson is a sub at City High.

“I think it can be a challenging job in a lot of ways. It requires a strong personality and it’s a high-stress job that requires people who are able to manage their own stress well,” Jackson said.

Subbing can be hard because substitutes are rarely familiar with who/what they are teaching, and it can be stressful if they don’t know what to expect.

“I’ve been in 40 different schools in the last year. You don’t fall into a comfort zone because the faces in the names change every day. And you have to have your guard up all the time,” Jackson said.

The difficulty of the sub shortage has affected students.

“One time I was in class, my teacher couldn’t find a sub, and we didn’t have a teacher for like 25 minutes. I went to the library and didn’t go to class. The sub shortage is basically influencing kids to not go to class because there are no teachers,” said Lily Cain ‘25.

As with any other job, the more money it pays, the more people will want to do the job. According to the Monthly Labor Review, close to six hundred thousand substitute teachers cover over 30 million teacher absences in K–12.

“I think higher pay usually helps just about everything. You know, anything and everything. I don’t know if there’s another easy answer outside of that. I think most school districts and teachers worked and worked their butts off,” Jackson said

Beyond paying subs more, some teachers believe the schools could provide more instruction on how to be a sub.

“I think we should do an advertisement or something out in the community like ‘Hey we need really good subs and we’re really trying to make it a fun job where you can help out the community and help out teachers’. When I have to go to a conference or miss school for an illness, it’s stressful knowing that I might not have a sub and other teachers might have to fill in,” Jonathan Rogers, City High Journalism teacher, said.

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Logan Kelly
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