The Shortage of Substitute Teachers

The state of Minnesota is facing a struggle that several other states know well- a shortage of substitute teachers.

School districts in Rochester, Minnesota report difficulties finding substitute teachers, with principals and superintendents having to cover the vacancies. Full-time teachers also report filling in for other teachers, which cuts into their preparation time. In an interview with the Post-Bulletin, Kingland High School principal Jim Hecimovich said he has had to fill in for sick teachers regularly.

Some education leaders say the substitution teacher shortage is caused by a good job market; “The job market has become so good in the Rochester area, people are not relying on substitute teaching but are finding different careers,” said Byron Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Elstad. However, other education leaders blame the shortage on a larger problem – there are simply fewer people in teaching. Dover-Eyota superintendent Bruce Klaehn said he noticed a decline in the number of job applicants for teaching positions.

Two of Project Tomorrow’s initiatives, YouthTEACH2Learn and the California Future Educators Association (F.E.A.), work to combat this issue.

YouthTEACH2Learn is a career exploration program where students explore teaching as a career. During the course, the students gain practical experience by observing elementary school classrooms, learning how to teach, developing and teaching standards-based lessons to younger students in neighboring elementary schools and participating in local community service projects. In addition, students also have the opportunity to meet local educators, attend career panels and visit local college campuses in order to determine if the teaching is a “good-fit” for their professional goals. To learn more about YouthTEACH2Learn, visit

California F.E.A. encourages students to learn about careers in education and aid them in exploring teaching while providing meaningful opportunities to receive the mentoring and support they need to actualize their career aspirations. To learn more about California F.E.A., visit

Interested in reading the original article? Click here to read “Area districts desperate for substitute teachers” by the Post-Bulletin.

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