The Story Behind the Substitute


Mrs. Sherman

  Every morning a substitute teacher wakes up to a steaming cup of coffee, pre-planned attire, and a filing cabinet of courage to face a roomful of strangers. Hired by Kelly Education Staffing, a company that connects schools to substitute teachers, the substitutes then check the Kelly Education Staffing website to confirm their upcoming job.

  Bolles’ contract with Kelly Education Staffing allows them to directly contact substitutes in times of teacher absences. If an expected absence occurs, Bolles could call weeks ahead. If an unexpected absence occurs, Bolles can let substitutes know early that morning, or even during the day, as they are needed. On days when subs are needed for several teachers, Mrs. Harcrow, the Executive Assistant to Associate Head of Upper School, oversees the schedules, assigning periods to substitutes who are free during a period.  However, there is more colorful background to these substitute teachers than the blank whiteboard behind them.

Mrs. Carolyn Sherman, a Bolles sub for 18 years, was originally born in Haiti where her parents were teachers, an influence on her teaching career. This career began in an exotic locale, Jamaica, following her high school education.

Sherman went to high school in Jamaica under the British system. After graduation, her high school, Bishops High School in Mandeville, Jamaica, offered her a temporary positon.

Instead of going to college, she took the job.

  While filling in “bits and pieces” for a year at her school, she was able to teach Latin, French, Art, and English because of her extensive knowledge of the languages. Her passion in, “[connecting] the students with the culture and life and the emotions of people,” aided her ability to advise students.

When she moved to Massachusetts for college, Sherman skipped over a year of classes and quickly attained her English teacher certification. Sherman later taught in California before deciding to stay home with her two kids. Her first teaching job after time with her children was in St. Petersburg, Florida, moving her classroom east. This classroom is carried on the capable shoulders of Mrs. Sherman, a teacher who, “like[s] interaction with the students [and] a lot of visuals” in the classroom.

  In the later years of her life, she was able to move her knowledge of interaction in teaching to a different aspect of her life: her family. Her trip to Sweden last summer allowed her to meet relatives from many generations back. Her ability of analysis enabled her to find the history of her relatives dating back to the Vikings. Besides spending time with her family, Sherman also has a love of painting, portrayed through one of her murals displayed in a spa in Georgia.

  Besides her predecessors, she enjoys the company of her successors: her children and two grandchildren. Sherman often travels to Georgia where her daughter lives and Wyoming where her son lives along with her grandchildren.

  Her dedication to her children and grandchildren reflects her loving attitude in the classroom. She enjoys watching students that she has had in past years grow up and just “being in the classroom with kids.”


Mr. Harman

  While many students recognize him as a substitute all over the Bolles campuses, Mr. Bryan Harman, roster in hand, enjoys  seeing new student faces.

   Throughout the class, Harman feels a connection to the students, a connection that he hates to break when the bell rings signaling the end of the period.

  As he implements the detailed and complete lesson plans, Harman said he receives from the teachers, his love for teaching and football intertwine as he converses with the students about daily lesson and the last touchdown or speed of a player.

Outside of substituting, Harman enjoys trips to St. Augustine and works as a realtor at a real estate company called Legends of Real Estate in Jacksonville Beach.    

Harman received his degree in history and political science from Virginia Commonwealth University. As a result, he adores teaching social studies in the classroom the most because the atmosphere is his more “proficient” subject.

  However, Harman’s teaching jobs go beyond Bolles, ranging across Florida. His substituting at Volusia County and Duval County public schools provided him with student experience. However, he mostly substitutes for Chets Creek and Atlantic Beach Elementary School; two schools that have taught him the importance of transition from a 5th to a 6th grader. This transition is one of the most “enjoyable” moments in his career. When a student that he has seen from previous elementary schools transitions into the Bartram Campus, he relishes the chance to see them grow up. Harman said, “There was so much change in the students. They were a lot more independent [and had more] maturity.”


Mr. Armstrong

Mr. Drew Armstrong is also able to reflect on his substituting abilities because of previous experience with adolescents. In previous years, Armstrong was a multimedia master, teaching Major Event Production and Music Video Business classes at the Colorado Institute of Art and the University of Colorado in Denver because of his experience in concert promoting. The love for children in his classrooms began here. Now, he looks forward to substituting at Bolles. He says, “I don’t need the money, it’s just a nice place to go for a couple of days in a week.”

  Armstrong’s longest substituting job was his three-week substituting on the Bartram campus while Mrs. Kellie Marks was on maternity leave. However, he admits to not wanting to teach full time because of the amount of paper grading he had to do. Even during his teaching career in Colorado, he disliked grading papers. While his friends went skiing in Breckenridge, he would stay back and grade papers. Looking back now, he writes, “that was probably the safest thing for me to have done.”

Armstrong’s days as a concert promoter began in the 60s when he and his brother started a band. Their band eventually grew and started to book other bands in college while doing shows at the student union. In his junior and senior year at college, Armstrong started producing concerts at other schools. After graduating college, his contacts to agents in LA aided him in starting a business. From Little Rock, Arkansas to Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver, Colorado, he promoted and managed over 120 concerts. His contacts grew as he began to meet famous singers including Gwen Stefani and Reba McEntire, the latter known to him since 1975.

  Armstrong still enjoys seeking talent with students he has substituted for at Bolles. Seeing student plays or shows reminds him of the concert business. He even says, “I could spot an act when nobody knows them” giving the example of knowing he was seeing greatness at one of Bruce Springsteen’s first shows.

  In his search for warmer weather after Denver, he settled down in Florida because it was reminiscent of his childhood in Louisiana, a childhood filled with memories of his brother who always went boating with him. In his spare time, he still enjoys boating in Florida and getting calls from former students about their success. He described, “I love getting calls from former students. [I] know that they are going to do well.”