We talked with one of the substitutes hired by the Medford School District during the strike, but due to security and safety concerns, she does not want to be identified.
“I’m looking forward to the positive energy the kids are going to experience tomorrow when they walk in the classroom,” she said.
Supporters of the Medford Education Association have picketed outside hotels and orientation sites. The substitute said there are intimidation tactics going on, but believes only a few are behind them.
“I feel like there’s a loud group of the M.E.A. that speak the loudest and the most negative. There’s a silent majority that is doing things respectfully and responsibly,” she said.
She has been teaching for years, both full time and as a sub, and still holds all required qualifications. After the strike deadline was set, she was contacted by the school district and spent quite some time weighing the pros and cons of crossing the picket line.
“You know that relationships are at stake. You know that your reputation might be at stake. You know that you may be personally and professionally attacked,” the substitute said.
She said the deciding factor was getting down to the reason she got into teaching.
“Ultimately, why I got into education and for the majority of educators is to be there for the kids and to be in the classroom with kids. So, for me, I wipe all that away, and what is more core is to be here for kids,” the substitute said.
She previously crossed the picket line to substitute during a different strike years ago in another district. She said subs are accustomed to sliding into classrooms when needed and quality learning time is still achieved.
“We come into strange classrooms every day. We get to see and experience new things and new teaching styles and learning styles, so we are nothing but flexible,” she said.
As far as compensation goes, the substitute said the pay for one shift is comparable to an average day. However, working two shifts allows them to make more. She also made sure to mention the detailed lesson plans left by the teachers, which will help the substitutes and ultimately help the students.