Beloved Subs Tell All: Experiences and Advice for the Road Ahead

A drained student walks into just another period of the day, expecting another day of notes, worksheets and lectures. Instead, seeing the substitute standing in your classroom brings a well deserved break from tedious work. They have always been there throughout our high school journey, waiting in the background to sweep in and make sure we don’t miss a beat. After having subs for four years, it’s easy to get to know them in the class, but many people wonder what they do when they step outside of the DHS foyer.

It was just like any other day for Mrs. Trossman, or so she thought. She was hard at work subbing for Mr. Navickas’ class when the students became uncontrollably rowdy.

“Remember now, you are the students and I am the boss,” Trossman said.

From that moment on, “Trossboss” quickly became her nickname and she became a legend in the halls of DHS. She graduated from Roosevelt University in Illinois with a degree in teaching. After retiring from teaching business at Oakton Community College and several other schools over the past 20 years, the decision to become a substitute was a simple one.

“I retired from teaching, and then decided that I wasn’t happy being home. I decided to go to a district near me which was 113. There were many to schools to choose from, but I didn’t want to work in the same school as my granddaughter.

Mrs. Trossman is a school celebrity, known in the hallways as “Trossboss”

I ended up working at Highland Park and Deerfield,” Trossman said.

Trossman wanted to feel the thrill of teaching again. Ever since the decision to start working once more, she has been happily subbing at DHS and HPHS. During her years of teaching and subbing, she has encountered many different types of students, but she believes that Deerfield’s students have proven to be the best.

“The best part of subbing at DHS are the students. They are so nice and friendly. Ordinarily, teachers receive more respect, but I don’t find a problem with that here. I respect the students and they respect me,” Trossman said.

Mrs. Trossman has had so many great memories during her time at DHS that she doesn’t miss teaching full time at all. She has been subbing in District 113 for 13 years, and each year she has created memories that she will never forget.

“I remember when students’ phones were first allowed in the classroom — not for use during class. I warned the students that I was known for taking away phones that were used by students in the classroom. In one day, I collected 15 phones,” Trossman said.

She loves subbing for any teacher and class because she gets to interact with greater variety of students, and build strong relationships with the classes. Her keys to being a successful substitute are liking teenagers, having a sense of humor, and to always enjoy what you are doing.

Overall, she has had countless memories and experiences with the students at DHS. Through subbing here for so many years, “Trossboss” has made a lasting impression on every student she has met and worked with.

Memories such as salsa dancing with Mrs. Benito’s AP Spanish class, or taking four students to The Mean Weiner for lunch during School Chest would have never been possible if Mrs. Conen had not taken the leap to become a substitute teacher.

“I became a substitute because I had been involved in the PTO at HPHS and the Dist 113 Educational Foundation. I was ready to start working again since my boys were grown up. Subbing seemed liked a good place to start. I wasn’t a teacher so I didn’t know if I would be good at it or if I would like it,” Conen said.

Surprisingly, Mrs. Conen didn’t always intend to be a teacher.

Even though she was initially worried about it, subbing quickly became her passion. The uniqueness of the job enables retired teachers and people who have never taught before to meet new students and staff every time they go to work.

“My favorite part is meeting new students and subbing in different classrooms everyday. Nothing ever gets old or dull, everyday is different,” Conen said.

Conen doesn’t have a background in teaching. She graduated from Indiana University as a business major and has worked in the financial industry since college. Conen loves to sub for business classes and topics she is familiar with. Since there are a multitude of different classes and teachers that a sub has to interact with, picking favorites isn’t easy.

“I try to gain respect so that while in the classroom the students will act as if the teacher is in the room not a substitute. I love my job and hope to make a difference in someone’s life everyday. I know how lucky I am to sub at DHS,” Conen said.

According to Conen, being open to classes and teachers allows her to meet students, teachers and staff that she can now call her friends. She advocates getting to know the kids because they have a lot to offer. She has so much respect for all the hard work teachers put into their jobs. She shares that although being a substitute teacher is a tough job, without it her life would be boring.

After spending her days moving from class to class helping students and staff anyway she can, Mrs. Wickboldt cannot picture her life without subbing. When she started her journey as an educator in the English department, Mrs. Wickboldt immediately fell in love with helping students and wanted to lend a helping hand outside of the classroom too. This passion drove her to become a guidance counselor and help students with anything from homework to personal issues. After retiring, becoming a substitute teacher was her next step in continuing her passion.

“As a former teacher, I can definitely say that it is much harder to be a teacher; however, my goal as a sub is to attempt to adapt to the style of each individual teacher and ultimately create a smooth transition for the students,” Wickboldt said.

She has been subbing since at DHS since 2010. The classes she subs for could often transform themselves from a day of busy work into a therapy session for her students to vent about their day. Her history as a counselor and helping students with social, emotional and academic endeavors helps her relate more with them. Her job at DHS allows her to meet new students and staff every day that remind her why her job is so rewarding.

Mrs. Wickboldt started in the English department.

“It’s evident that the staff and students really care about one another at DHS, and they have a warmth about them, which makes my job as a substitute so much easier. Whenever I have a question about something, everyone in the school is so helpful with getting a quick and complete answer,” Wickboldt said.

Mrs, Wickboldt is always excited and ready for a day at work. She loves being called in and wondering what new students and staff she will meet that day. Although she loves what she does, her time away from subbing is very important to her. After playing with her “spoiled” golden retriever, she takes her newborn granddaughter and her talkative three-year-old grandson on trips.

Although substitutes can sometimes be overlooked, the knowledge and support Mrs. Wickboldt provides the students can never be ignored. She is grateful that she has had the opportunity to meet the staff and students that make each day she spends at DHS special.

“I believe that it’s important to be grateful for the blessings that come our way — many of which we often take for granted. I guess that the most important part of being a teacher or substitute is to consider things from another’s viewpoint and to keep empathy at the center of everything that you do,” Wickboldt said.