Tribute to Our Subs

(This Blog post was originally written on May 20, 2013)

School isn’t just a place to learn things. It is also a place to have fun. Perhaps the best moments of fun in the classroom is when a substitute teacher takes over for the day.

I’ve had many substitute teachers throughout the years. Some worth remembering, some that I have totally forgotten.

Fun with substitute teachers is perhaps best when the teacher writes down lesson plans for the class – for the sub to interpret – and the class says, “no, that’s not how it’s done.” These kids are often the ones that speak the loudest in class, and are thus the most annoying.

Then there are those quiet class clowns, such as myself. I rarely ever spoke in class, so whenever I had to correct an unsuspecting sub, it was believeable. That went with having to create a fake storyline and hope the rest of the class would follow along. It was sort of the Bob Newhart way of getting things across.

Subs will often have that one feature that we notice that’s different than the visual memory of our regular teacher. We will always take a stare at the person’s wart or odd-shaped girth when they are around. Since substitute teachers are only supposed to be temporary, we don’t often remember them after our school days have passed. The ones we do remember either were traditional float teachers, or those that said or did something that is still remembered to this day.

Subs either scared the crap out of us, or allowed for a fun day.

Here are some of the substitute teachers that I can recall from my school days:

Mrs. Eddinger:  She was the primary substitute teacher during my days at Merrill. She had taught there for a long time, and this was a retirement thing for her. Her big saying was “I want no talking!” One day when we were lined up to enter the music room, the class exiting was one of her’s. We were loud and I happened to see Mrs. Eddinger. She looked at us loud kids and I shouted across the line, “What does Mrs. Eddinger want?!?!” We also didn’t know how to spell her name because she never wrote her name on the chalkboard like most subs do.

Mrs. Kane:  Kane was another one of the subs at Merrill, and her longest stint was having to sub for Mrs. Sickler during her maternity leave when I was in fourth grade. We started the year with her. The only thing I remember about her was a weird number game she would have us do at the beginning of class (describing it would be a seperate Blog entry of its own).

Name Unknown: We had her for Mrs. Vanderlaan in third grade and looked like that kind of lady who lived with a bunch of cats. Apparently she had relatives from Lichtenstein – which was the first time we ever heard of any other country in Europe, and I seem to recall her one of her parents being born in “nineteen two.” When? That was the first time we had heard the shortening of what we all called “nineteen oh two.”

Mr. Baar: He was a high school sub that had a large bald spot with small strands of hair sticking out like a windmill farm. He drove a yellow Beetle.

Mr. Taylor: He was a large black guy with big bug eyes. Everyone thought he was real cool. He was later a security guard at NIU last I knew.

Mr. Dill: His specialty was language arts, so he subbed for our english teachers. He was a college professor for years and spoke in a way that we just weren’t used to. That’s all I’ll say.

Mr. Riley:  He didn’t sub often, and I think I only had him twice: once for 7th grade math, and once for 8th grade science. During his second time, one of the boys had to go to the bathroom. He then said something about a rubberband. I’ll stop there.

Mr. Turner:  He is the son of Mr. Turner the gym teacher at Challand. The girls really liked him. Then he announced to our 8th grade science class he was subbing that he was taking a laboratory job in Indianapolis. That really disappointed the girls in the class, and he even had to raise his voice to reassure them that this was his career path.

Mrs. Mattheisen:  She was tall, heavyset with gray hair and large glasses. She almost always wore linens. My biggest memory of her was in 6th grade when Keenan found a thumbtack and planted it on the teacher’s chair. She was headed back to the teacher’s desk, where Keenan had laid the tack, when he shouted for her to not sit down. She sat down. She did not flit, and just sat there staring at Keenan. Keenan’s thumbtackery would continue with other subs that year.

Mr. Noble:  He was a high school sub whom I first had for Mr. Brown in health. He had taught for many years at Oak Lawn Richards H.S.. Someone in the class stole the stapler off of the teacher’s desk and he wouldn’t dismiss the class until the stapler was found. Mr. Beswick had to be called in.

Mr. Dunphy: He was very easy to get along with, and was also a girls basketball coach at the high school.

Mr. Dillie:  He later became a full-time teacher at SHS, and was known for his real raspy voice. He’s at Moline now.

Mr. Fortney: Brother of the dean of students at Challand, he was a long-term fill-in for freshman study hall after Mrs. Neahring walked out mid-year. He was a tough guy but we always found our way around him.

Mr. Slothower: I only remember having him once for Spanish, an old retired teacher from Dixon I believe.

Mr. Hinders: We remember him as the never-aging 8th grade math teacher who finally retired some years after our year. I remember him subbing in my senior trig class and he had complete control over the subject matter and everything. The only sub I had that actually knew what he/she was doing.

Mrs. Hagen:  Another sub that later became a full-time teacher at SHS. We had a lot of fun with her, but she was always in control of things.

Mr. Folsom: I forget how he is tied to the bakery in town.

Probably my best-remembered substitute teacher is a guy by the name of Mr. Lane.

I first had Lane in 6th grade. He was a fat redhead with acne and thick glasses, and I swear was developmentally not right (if it is Autism, I will then understand everything). Apparently Unit 5 gave him a chance. He had this real annoying high-pitched voice that would sometimes squeal even louder mid-sentence. Everyone who went to school with me at Sterling surely has a Mr. Lane moment, if they can remember the guy. He never once touched me, but I can recall him telling Dan Rodriguez to stand at the corner of the wall in 6th grade.

“Alright Mr. Lane, here I am. Standing at the corner.”

“Noooooo. Put your nose UPPPPP to it.” (I’m not sure which word was high-pitched)

“Really Mr. Lane? Really? So I have to put my nose up to it? … Is this close enough?”

“Up to the wall.”

“It is!”

Lane also subbed elementary school classes, so my brothers Mike and Chris had him. Likewise, both of them have Lane stories.

The substitute busters had a lot of fun with him. We were afraid of him. We were creeped out by him. And we didn’t learn a thing from him. I heard he was banned from subbing for some reason.

If there are more subs, I can’t remember them. Here’s hoping I’ll get help from some of my classmates.


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