Friday, May 30, 2008

This Is A Sub Story ...

We moved back to Beaumont in 1983 so that I could serve as Minster of Youth with the Ridgewood Church of Christ. One area of the ministry called for me to become a substitute teacher for high schools in the area. This way I could meet teenagers that I would not otherwise meet. Since I was a Youth Minister and teenagers are “Youth,” the substitute teacher approach worked quite well.

Anyway, as you may know, substitute teachers have a hard row to hoe. When a regular teacher is out due to sickness or whatever, the students really can get on a substitute teacher’s case. Or to use an old saying, “When the cat’s away, the mice will play.” Let me share with you a couple of “tricks” the students loved to pull on subs.

When I substituted in public high schools the classes were very large. At least they were large compared to private schools. In public schools I had as many as 35 students in one classroom for as long as one hour at a time.

Sometimes the students traded names. Since I did not know anyone, this could be confusing. Tom and John might trade names. Then if I gave the class a “pop-quiz” Tom would receive John’s grade and John, Tom’s. Really I never knew for sure just who was who. Other times, when I called the roll to check attendance someone in the back of the room would answer “here” for someone who was absent. I used to wonder how I had more students present in the roll book than were present in the classroom. Actually I realized what they were doing but still found difficulty in determining who was present or absent.

One day I received a call from John Davis who was Senior Minister for the Ridgewood Church of Christ (In fact, John has been with the Ridgewood Church for 50 years). He was going out of town for a week and he asked me to teach his Home and Family class at French High, a public high school located on Concord Road. This proved to be a fascinating class. Our textbook for the class was the Holy Bible, a neat concept. I told John that I would teach while he was away.

The school at that time had a predominantly minority student population. While I had been a substitute teacher in several schools in the area I had never taught at French High. I well knew the pranks that students played on subs and quite honestly I thought this class would, “eat my lunch.”

But let me share with you a most remarkable thing. Those students were the most respectful students I ever met. I taught that class for an entire week and never had even one moment of misconduct from any of them.

I made friends with several of those students. When John Davis returned from his out-of-town trip I made it a point to compliment the outstanding conduct of the students. Also, I asked John to call on me anytime he needed a substitute teacher for that class.

John Davis did call on me to sub several mores times that year. In fact I became his regular substitute teacher for several years. I enjoyed thoroughly going into the classroom with those students at French High. Even now at age 72, I continue to marvel at the high level of respect they showed to this old substitute teacher. And you know what? I’d do it again at the drop of a hat.

Now for this note to those French High School students. Thank you for ministering to this minister in such an exemplary Christian manner.

Winston Hamby


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