Schools face a substitute teacher crisis. These districts are getting creative to fix it.

By: | March 1, 2021

Stefanie Fernandez usually spends her workweek in the finance office of Independent Stave, a company that manufactures oak barrels for bourbon and other spirits, headquartered in Lebanon, Missouri. But once every week or two since December, Fernandez has trailed her son into his middle school when she drops him off for classes. She checks in at the office, picks up a binder with “sub notes” and reports to a classroom.

“Good morning, class,” she greets the masked students. “I’m Mrs. Fernandez, and this is what we’re going to do today.”

Fernandez is one of several Independent Stave administrative staffers who have taken their employer up on an offer to spend up to one day a week substitute teaching in the Lebanon School District. The company makes up the difference between the school district’s substitute teacher pay and their regular salaries.

The goal is to address a substitute teacher crisis that has left districts across the country struggling to find substitutes when teachers are absent because of Covid-19 or for other reasons.

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