BISD looking to hire more subs like Jamie Ratliff 


Jamie Ratliff gets lots of hugs each day. It’s part of her job as a long-term substitute teacher for a kindergarten class at Tarver Elementary in West Temple.

“Sometimes that’s what a kid needs, a hug or a smile,” she said. “I probably get 20 or more hugs a day.”

Ratliff started subbing in Belton ISD when her oldest child was in fifth grade. 

“I was just volunteering in my kids’ classes and helping the teachers, seeing all that they did,” said the former stay-at-home mom. “I thought, ‘You know I’m in here almost every day helping, so I might as well get paid for it.’”

Sixteen years later, she’s never looked back. 

“A lot of people ask me why I’m not a (full-time) teacher,” Ratliff said. “I like the flexibility of subbing. If I have something that I want to go and do, I make my schedule and am able to do that. I plan out for the year the days that I know I need off. That’s nice that I can do that.”

She also loves impacting kids’ lives.

“I like that you can be in different classrooms and be in different grades and see what all those kids are learning,” Ratliff said. “I love when a little kid comes up and can read to me — that’s never read. I love when a little kid on the sixth day that I had him — never held a pencil, never knew how to write his name — can write his name. Those kinds of rewards. I feel like that’s my blessing that I’m doing for them. That I can be able to help them.”

Belton ISD is looking to hire more substitute teachers like Ratliff.

Calvin Itz, executive director of human resources, said the district has increased staff development opportunities for teachers, which has upped the number of substitutes needed daily. There are currently about 25 unfilled positions each day.

“We value having a ‘learner’ quality in employees. Those who seek ways to continuously acquire new knowledge and skills to enhance performance,” Itz said. “Having plenty of reliable substitutes who are willing to work regularly helps us give teachers that sheltered learning time.” 

But sometimes, Itz said, people are intimidated or hesitant to apply to be a sub.

“You may be in the classroom, but the lesson plans are provided for you,” he said. “There are teams of teachers and staff around you at the campus that are going to support you if you have questions. Your job is to show kindness and interact positively with kids, and implement what the teacher has left for you.”

And that’s not going to be presenting information that’s beyond your capabilities, Itz said.

“It’s going to be assignments the kids are familiar with and an extension of that,” he said. “Your job is to be a positive role model while you supervise classrooms.”

Many substitutes, Itz said, go on to become full-time paraeducators or teachers. 

If you think being a sub could be for you but aren’t completely sure, Ratliff suggests starting where she did: as a volunteer. 
“Go in the classroom and see what’s going on beforehand,” she said. “Go to different classes, schools, and what you feel comfortable with. You get to pick a school and a grade.”

At the end of the day — when the afternoon dismissal bell rings — Ratliff said it’s about your presence.

“Those teachers take pride in the work they do,” she said. “They love on those babies. The minute they come into the classroom that’s their babies. And they expect that you’re going to take care of their babies, whatever grade they are. You’re being a blessing to them that you’re there.” 

To learn more about becoming a substitute in Belton ISD, visit www.bisd.net/substitute.

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