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Who You Gonna Call?

Substitute teachers are always on call

    For the 31st time in his post-retirement second act as a substitute teacher, Billy Keyes will report for duty August 25 at South River High School.
    “I’m going in the first day,” says Keyes, who at age 93 is the oldest active substitute teacher in Anne Arundel County, and likely on this planet.
    Since retiring in 1983 as a guidance counselor in the District of Columbia Public School System, Keyes has logged untold days of substituting at South River High. He teaches art, sharing his considerable skills as an artist and painter. His work can be seen in the Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis.
    Can Keyes relate to students young enough to be his great-grandchildren?
    “I’ve never had a problem with my students,” says Keyes, who carries the gravitas of a man who fought in World War II and early in his career was a police officer. “I enjoy it. I’ve been lucky all my life.”
    Melissa Yanowitz, a relative newcomer to substituting, says she likes the flexibility that teaching part-time offers. Yanowitz, of Annapolis, is beginning her second year teaching math and science as a substitute at South River.
    “I wouldn’t want to do it every day. I like having some days off to do other things,” says Yanowitz, a former financial services professional.
    Anne Arundel County keeps a list of qualified substitutes in an online database, along with their areas of expertise. Teachers needing a temporary replacement can request specific substitutes, and substitutes can choose among listed vacancies online.
    “It’s kind of like potluck,” Yanowitz says. “I really like it.”

Substitute Teaching
So you think you want to fill in?

Substitute teachers must have at least 48 hours (about three semesters worth) of college credit. They can be as young as age 18 for elementary schools, and must be at least 21 for middle or high school. Long-term substitutes (more than 10 days) must have a college degree.
    Pay starts at $55 a day for minimally qualified substitutes, $90 a day for those with college degrees and $120 a day for long-term duty.
    (Anne Arundel County Public School officials did not respond to requests for information on substitute teacher qualifications. These terms were posted online for the 2013-2014 school year.)
    Calvert County only requires its substitutes to have a high school diploma and three references. They also must pass a background check and attend county training sessions. Substitutes in Calvert schools earn $70 a day, or $80 a day for those with college degrees.
    Calvert County is not taking new applications for substitutes this school year. The list will be reviewed in early 2015.
    During economic downturns, well-educated workers experiencing layoffs or unemployment often seek temporary jobs like substitute teaching, which does not pay well but is well above the minimum wage.
    “Ever since 2008, we have had more substitutes than we need,” said a spokeswoman for Calvert County Public Schools.