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The Campus Lantern

SCH manages teacher absences with education in mind

Note. Image generated using Adobe Firefly from the prompt sick teacher in bed grading papers

Springside Chestnut Hill teachers have to fill their positions in the classroom when they have to be absent so their students can continue to learn without interruptions.

This is possible because SCH has created a great team of substitute teachers who have learned to supervise students and keep them on track. Mercedes Reichner ’16 has been dependably covering for teachers for over a year “I started subbing in February of last year and when I was day-to-day subbing, I would usually be called in to sub three to four times a week,” she said.

Ms. Schade, the upper school administrative assistant, is responsible for assigning substitute teachers when a short-term absence comes in. Absences come in when a teacher or their child or family member is sick or when the need arises for a teacher to take a personal day.

Ms. Schade puts in a lot of time making sure an absent teacher has a substitute to fill in. This could be an outside sub, a teacher in school or herself when necessary.

Ms.Schade commented, “If it’s last minute and I get a text at 5 o’clock or 6 o’clock in the morning that day, my kid’s sick, I can’t come in, I try to find an outside sub.” Mercedes noted, “For more short notice calls, it’s typically called in the morning around 6:30 on the day they need you to come in.” She added, “If I can’t make it they just reach out to the next person on the list … Yeah, I do sub in. If it’s multiple teachers will step in and deans will step in as well.”

Ms. Gellhorn, a teacher in the upper school, talked about both being absent and filling in for teachers whose classes do not have someone to fill their spots.

“The department keeps lists of when each teacher is free to sub so it is easy for Ms. Shade or the department chair to find coverage. After we have covered two classes, we get paid $35 per class we cover. It’s nice to help each other out and it’s nice that the school recognizes us when we put extra work in.”

Ms. Gellhorn fills in, but she also has been absent on multiple occasions this year. She discussed how she keeps her students on track when she is out. “This year I have already been absent five days.” She added, “If I am well enough, sometimes I will grade, which is one of the upsides.”

Ms. Gellhorn pointed out that she continues working when she is capable and uses the time that she has to her advantage. She continues working on her classes even when she is at home sick.

Ms. Gellhorn also discussed the work she gives her students when she is absent. She said, “I don’t like to give kids busy work just for the sake of staying busy, so sometimes a study hall is preferable.” She continued, “When the teacher is too sick to come up with a plan, or the plan is too complicated for a sub who is unfamiliar with the content, it is generally better, in my opinion, for the teacher to hit pause and pick up with the lesson when they return.” Ms. Gellhorn wants students to be given the opportunity to learn the lesson in the way she intended for their best educational experience.

She went on to describe the let down of getting sick after beginning a new unit: “Being absent last week I felt like we had launched into something exciting and then I was sick so I gave them a study hall. Sometimes I feel really stressed out about losing momentum with my classes.”

Although a teacher may be absent, SCH faculty strives to put the student’s education first in tough circumstances.

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About the Contributor
Alexa Robles '24
Alexa Robles '24, Staff Writer
Alexa is currently a senior at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, and this is her first year on staff. Outside of school, she is always at the nail salon or in the Starbucks drive-through. She also thinks about driving her car all day.
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