The Atlantic

Solving the Substitute-Teacher Conundrum

A startup is empowering community members to bring their talents to classrooms and revolutionizing substitute teaching in the process.
Source: Aly Song / Reuters

Miss Frizzle is not a certified classroom teacher. Neither are Dora the Explorer or the bill in Schoolhouse Rock singing on the steps of the Supreme Court hoping to become a law. But that doesn’t stop these cartoon education tools from taking center stage on days when regular classroom teachers are off the job.

Substitutes are almost always put in sink-or-swim situations: They’re with a class for a limited amount of time, lesson-plan-preparedness is often inconsistent, and students can be less than helpful in describing what they should be working on. And so, movies and word-search puzzles become inevitable mainstays in the substitute teacher’s arsenal. Parachute Teachers is hoping to disrupt that rhythm.

The company, founded by Sarah Cherry Rice, operates as a marketplace for community members—whether they’re scientists, writers, actors, or engineers—to leverage their talents in front of a classroom when the students’ typical teacher is unable to be there. Parachute Teachers create lesson plans based on their areas of expertise and then bring

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