City schools substitutes

At an abbreviated meeting for city schools substitutes, they learned about the documents they would need, background checks and where to find the online training module.

While concerns about the novel coronavirus may scare off some potential substitute teachers, Tiffany Whitesell isn’t one of them.

“I have every confidence that the school system is taking every precaution,” she said. Whitesell was one of about 30 people who showed up at Cullman High School last week for substitute orientation.

In deference to the virus, the school system moved the training portion of its substitute program online. At Thursday’s abbreviated meeting, they learned about the documents they would need, background checks and where to find the online training module.

Whitesell, who has a degree in education but left the profession to become a stay-at-home mom, is hoping substitute teaching will help her get back into a teaching career. In the past, she has substituted in Cullman City schools lunchrooms. “In my experience, they do everything they can to take care of the students,” she said.

Cullman City Schools Career and Technical Education Coordinator Mike Donaldson acknowledged the challenge the novel coronavirus presents. “We’re appreciative of you for being willing to go into an unknown situation,” he told the group. 

Suzaun Shell said she has some concerns about the virus because she cares for her elderly father. “I don’t want to get something that I pass along to him,” she said. But the veteran special education teacher is hoping substituting with the Cullman City School system will eventually lead to a more permanent position. She has previously taught in Huntsville and the Cullman County School System.

The orientation and training session typically draws anywhere from 40-50 interested candidates, but by moving the training online, training is an on-going endeavor rather than a one-time event. Along with class room instructors, the schools also need teachers’ aides, food services workers, school nurses and clerical assistance.

Anyone interested in substituting in the school system can find information on the school district’s website at

Amy Henderson can be reached at 256-734-2131 Ext. 216.

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