Substitute teachers becoming a valuable asset to keep local schools going

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Heroes have emerged out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most people point to healthcare workers. Some would also add teachers to the list. But even they can get knocked down by the virus, leaving substitutes to step in.

From new grads testing the waters of an education career, to retirees or workers in between jobs, substitute teaching is the perfect pandemic side hustle.

“We’re seeing our absences of teachers not being in the buildings certainly at a higher rate this year,” said Matt Zediker, the chief human resources officer for RPS 205.

Zediker says anyone with a bachelor’s degree can apply.

“Our pain points are the day-to-day in-person substitutes that we need in the buildings,” he added.

There’s a similar need at the private level.

“It’s kind of like a merry-go-round. You’ll have a teacher go out because they’ve been next to someone who is quarantined,” said Don Gillingham, the executive director at Rockford Lutheran School.

At Rockford Lutheran, Gillingham is building a list of go-to subs that can step in in the nick of time.

“At Rockford Lutheran, we’re looking for rotating subs, we can’t tell you what it’ll be but we know there will be something tomorrow,” Gillingham said.

Administrators hope stockpiled subs that report to the same school will prevent the spread of the virus.

“In the old days, a substitute may have been in three different districts in week, so you’re exposing everyone to those,” Gillingham added.

“This year it’s different because we’re just watching over the class,” said football coach and substitute Tony Ambrogio.

Meanwhile, Lutheran Football Coach Tony Ambrogio has slid into the role of head substitute. This allows him to tackle a variety of subjects while keeping an eye on his athletes.

“You know, they’re high school kids, we’re making sure they’re socially distanced, and then you know socially distanced and doing your work. That’s basically what I’m making sure they’re doing,” Ambrogio said. “I would encourage people to do it because it’s a great way to be around kids and help during this COVID period we’re in.”

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