Foot in the door

MARQUETTE – With the school year now in full swing, most area schools have probably needed to call in a substitute teacher to fill in during a regular teacher’s absence.

And though the job of subbing may not be the easiest, becoming a substitute teacher may be simpler than most people think.

The State of Michigan requires a few things of its substitutes, namely that they have at least 90 college credits from an accredited university and that their transcripts show at least a 2.0 grade point average.

The 90 credit hours do not have to be related to any one topic, as substitute teachers are not required to be certified in any teachable subjects.

And, of course, substitute teachers must pass a background check with no problem and are required to be fingerprinted, as are all public school employees.

After that, additional requirements are up to the school district that needs the sub.

Locally, most people begin the process with help from the Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Services Agency, which walks new applicants through the permitting process with the state.

“For us, it’s a matter of collecting all the information,” said MARESA substitute teacher secretary Cookie Maki. “You bring in a copy of your transcripts and your fingerprints … that’s about all we need. And if those check out, then you’re good. You can start subbing the next day.”

However, many districts in Marquette and Alger counties use third-party contractors to hire their substitutes. Those contractors often require a certain amount of training before they let their subs out into the world.

Two companies used by districts in the area are PCMI Educational Contracting Specialists and Professional Educational Services Group. Both have websites – and respectively – that offer step-by-step instructions on how to apply for employment online.

Following certification from the private company, substitute teachers are ready to go.

Maki said many of the subs working in the area are retired teachers who didn’t want to completely give up working and Northern Michigan University students who are student teaching.

“There’s also people waiting to make that break to actually become a full-time teacher,” Maki said. “It’s a good way for them to make contacts if they’re subbing at a school now and there’s a position opening for whatever they’re subbing in.”

Mercedes Rosado is a long-term substitute in Marquette Senior High School, filling in as a resource room and special education aid for a teacher out on extended medical leave.

Rosado – who plans to commission into the Air Force in January, with the ultimate goal of flying fighter jets – said she decided to apply for a substitute position because she wanted a flexible work schedule to finish out the year.

“I wanted to set my own schedule,” Rosado said.

A 2007 graduate of MSHS, Rosado has a degree in exercise science from the University of Kentucky, which more than qualifies her for the 90 credit hours needed to be a substitute in Michigan.

Rosado has been a long-term sub for the high school since October, but was also a sub in September, a fact she said helped her get the long-term position.

And though sometimes the high school kids mistake her for another student, Rosado said she enjoys subbing and likes working with teens.

“I like this age group,” Rosado said. “You can reason with kids, help them with assignments.”

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.