Surrogate Class: When You Are Substituted by a Classy Individual

This blog is an homage to the incredible experience of having a very classy person fill in for me while I was recently detained from my Polite Pirates. It is inaccurate to say that Katie Boraske filled in for me. It is true that she fulfilled the role of substitute. That is what temporary teachers who replace an educator for a time are technically called, but Katie was so much more than that!

A dairy substitute replaces natural cream in coffee. One might use it if they want to cut down on their fat intake, save money, or want to store it longer than half & half will keep. It is able to be kept without refrigeration and longer than natural cream because it’s made using a variety of manmade chemicals. While there may be some benefits to having dairy substitutes, this coffee snob sticks to organic half & half, only. 

Katie Boraske has worked as my school’s “building sub,” off and on for the past couple of years. Building substitutes are available all of the time, in case an educator experiences symptoms of illness (Covid carefulness) and has to leave on short notice. When my father passed away recently, Katie was there to fill in for me. 

In addition to working as a building sub, Katie has helped me coach our elementary school chess club this year. Her love for the game, desire to grow in chess play, and gifted classroom management is invaluable to our biweekly meetings on Wednesday afternoons! 

When I found out that Katie would be the one to substitute for me, I was ecstatic. She let me know the moment that she found out via text message. Then we communicated about a few details in the lesson plans that I had left. What happened later on in the morning, though, was off-the-hook awesome. Katie texted me pictures and videos of what my Polite Pirates were doing. More than a substitute, Katie provided a portal to the classroom. 

At the time, I was going through tons of photos, preparing a slideshow for honoring my father’s life. When I came across a picture of myself with lots of hair (I’ve been bald for the past couple of years), I thought it would be funny to share with the class. I texted the image to Katie. Not only did she mirror the photo onto the screen in my classroom via Apple TV, but she video taped the Polite Pirates’ responses during the dramatic reveal. When she shared this video with me, my heart nearly burst with joy and laughter. I felt like I was there in the room with them!

The excellence in instruction, classroom management, and communication that Katie Boraske demonstrated daily made it not only comfortable, but fun to put together plans for her to teach my students for me. More than taking my place, it felt like Katie was a supplement to my teaching. A supplement is something that completes or enhances something else. We take vitamin supplements to fill in our deficiencies and help our bodies be the healthiest they can. 

We don’t always have control over who will stand in for us, but I hope that you can have the experience of someone as classy as Katie to substitute you when the need arises. It would be fun to hear some stories of other great surrogates to class. What funny, awesome, or unique experiences have you had with substitutes?