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Substitute teachers wanted
Eased state requirements allow younger subs
new slt teacher Popp mug
Assistant Superintendent John Popp

Great Bend USD 428, like many Kansas schools, continues to struggle to fill positions for substitute teachers. At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Assistant Superintendent John Popp was asked about the Kansas Board of Education’s decision earlier this month that temporarily eases the qualification requirements for substitute teachers.

The change was in response to a staff shortage exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the Temporary Emergency Authorized License (TEAL) rules, potential subs no longer have to meet the minimum of 60 college credits required for an emergency substitute license. TEAL applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma, have a verified employment commitment from a school district, and be fingerprinted and pass a background check.

A standard substitute license requires the applicant to have completed an approved teaching preparation program and have at least a bachelor’s degree.

The school district has been looking for subs and is accepting applications under the new guidelines. Now that they aren’t required to have two years of college, some of the applicants are “very young,” Popp said. “I mean, some kids just graduated high school.”

USD 428 Public Information Director Andrea Bauer noted that substitutes hired under the TEAL application will be utilized only if the district is unable to fill the position with another sub.

Any substitute approved by the district who doesn’t meet the old requirements will be assigned to an elementary school, where there are teacher aides available to help, Popp said.

“We’re going to make sure that they have some support, because some of them will be younger than the TAs that they’re working with. We’re going to make sure that they’re set up to succeed.” He said all of the TEAL applicants so far “have some type of background or history of working with kids.” Some have experience working in preschools and daycare centers.

Superintendent Khris Thexton said this can help take some of the pressure off of the staff. He compared the use of recent high school graduates to apprenticeships offered in skilled trades. 

“Several of these – actually I think all of them – have expressed interest in becoming teachers at some point,” Popp said. “This is a great way to bring them in and get started in our district.”

Grants and contributions

During Tuesday’s meeting the school board approved grants and grant contributions:

• The USD 428 Education Foundation received $422 from the Greg and Susan Bauer Children’s Health Fund for the Panther Pantry; $2,285 from Jenny Allford Memorial Contributions for the GBHS Vocal Music Department; and $1,700 from Blue Ribbon Business Sponsors for GB Reads.

• Reward Incentive contributions have been received from Sunflower Bank for its ABC program. Schools received the following amounts: Eisenhower, $432.18; Jefferson, $384.02; Lincoln, $405.58; Park, $425.96; Riley, $617.06; GBMS, $152.88; GBHS $1,203.80.

• Lincoln Technology Coach Lindsay Mazouch received approved to apply for a Kansas Association of Retired School Personnel (KARSP) grant for updated nonfiction books for the school library.


The school board approved the appointment of Matt Westerhaus as athletic/activities director at Great Bend High School.

The board also approved four teacher resignations. Kylee Graves, student and family advocate at Lincoln Elementary School, will resign effective Feb. 12 to take a position at the Family Crisis Center, Popp said.

The other resignations will go into effect at the end of the school year. They are Peyton Zink, speech language pathologist for Barton County Special Services; Maricela Alonso, pre-K teacher at Riley Elementary School; and Anna Jones, special education teacher at Riley.