Brownsville ISD employees being asked to substitute amid teacher shortage

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Brownsville Independent School District employees from different departments are being assigned to classrooms due to a teacher shortage. 

Cynthia Castro is the director of professional development at Brownsville ISD, but since returning from winter break, she's had to take on a different role.

Castro was assigned to teach ROTC and U.S. history class, and she says it felt great, especially with her military experience.

“So, we want teachers to know that we’re in there to help them, support them as much as we can, regardless of where we’re at with the district administration point,” Castro said.

Castro also has to take care of her own work, but she says it’s something that she can manage.

Brownsville ISD officials say they expected an increase of sick teachers once school resumed, so the district planned to get people from different departments to help cover classes.

“We wanted the parents to feel comfortable, as well, that we were not cluttering classrooms or meshing two classrooms, per se, together,” said Brownsville Deputy Superintendent Dr. Anysia Treviño.

Some of the employees who are helping are from payroll and human resources.

“It’s an array of departments, including the bilingual department, 504, migrant department," Dr. Treviño said. “It’s just been a lot of individuals coming together and saying, ‘How can I help?’”

Dr. Treviño said substitute teachers are sometimes not able to come in cover classes, so the district is trying to expedite the process. Treviño says the district is using people who have prior teaching experience.

For example, Castro is a former teacher who also spent seven years as a middle school principal. Castro says since she's back in the classroom, she's noticed something about the students.

“The kids were a little bit wondering where their friends were at, I won’t lie to you," Castro said. "Because we’re given an attendance and we’re looking for the children and they’re like, 'No, ma'am they’re at home.'”

Castro also understands how important the bond is between a teacher and their students.

“They become your children. So are they learning? Are they still effectively going to get the information if I’m not the one presenting it,” Castro said. 

Castro says she's talked about the issue with her own two kids, who are both students at Brownsville ISD.

“We have conversations all the time and a lot of it is, 'Mom we’re getting subs, and yes we’re learning some things, but it’s not the same,'" Castro said.

Castro says she will continue to do whatever she can for her district colleagues and for the kids.


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