UK helping to alleviate FCPS substitute teacher shortage

Posted at 7:15 PM, Mar 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-15 19:16:36-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX18) — Fayette County Public Schools is one of many districts across the country still struggling with a substitute teacher shortage.

An FCPS spokeswoman says on any given day there may be up to 100 unfilled spots.

Now that the pandemic seems to be slowing down, the hope is substitute teachers who were hesitant of being in the classroom will start to come back.

Until then, colleges across the state, including the University of Kentucky, have provided a solution: student teachers and practicum students fill in as subs.

LEX18 visited Frederick Douglass High School to watch as a UK senior, who is a student teacher, commanded an AP Calculus class solo.

Taylor Reaguer was in charge Tuesday because the main teacher was out for the day.

Usually, as a student teacher, Reaguer teaches alongside the main teacher to get experience before college graduation.

"I was definitely meant to be in the classroom," Reaguer said. "This is where I belong."

Before the pandemic, she wouldn't have been allowed to teach as a sub.

But a substitute teacher shortage made worse by the pandemic prompted the waiver of a Kentucky statute, allowing student teachers to be paid, and therefore, sub.

"Being in the classroom writing about teaching versus actually being in the classroom teaching are two very different things, and this semester has definitely made me know this is what I'm going to do for the rest of my life and I love it," she said.

It's a win-win, according to Margaret Mohr-Schroeder, the senior associate dean with UK's College of Education.

Future educators like Reaguer get to practice and get paid, while FCPS gets help with the shortage.

They are allowed to substitute up to 20 times per semester. Mohr-Schroeder also said they only sub for the class that they do their student teaching in so there is consistency and familiarity.

And now that the pandemic in Kentucky seems to be slowing down, she hopes more subs who have been hesitant to fill in will start to say yes again, further alleviating the shortage.

"Teaching is an amazing profession," Mohr-Schroeder said. "You get to interface with our young people every single day it's the most inspiring thing."