Women Rock Stars in Substitute Teaching: Catching Up with Hall of Famer Valerie Aduba

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In recognition of Women’s History month, we caught up with a phenomenal educator to share her impact story with the world. 

Did you know more than 70 percent of the substitute workforce is made up of women? This equates to more than 900,000 women substitute teachers who day-in and day-out are making a difference in their school communities and with the students they serve.

With March dedicated to the great accomplishments of women throughout our history, we thought it was a great time to chat with one of the inspiring women in the Swing Education network – 2019 Substitute Teacher Hall of Fame inductee Valerie Aduba.

During our chat, Valerie, who has been praised for her reliability and overall positive attitude, discussed the impact of substitute teaching on her career, as well as her plans for the future.

How did you get started with substitute teaching?

Valerie: I started subbing three years ago in the Sacramento, CA area after I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree and began taking pre-med courses at a local community college. I liked the commitment involved with long-term substitute teaching, but that I still got to try new things and meet so many new people – subbing definitely keeps you on your toes!

While I’m still going down the path of becoming a nurse or doctor, my experience with Swing and the opportunity to be in the classroom with students has made me consider pursuing a Ph.D. in education instead. I just know that I want to make an impact in whatever I do.

While it is hard work, substitute teaching has continued to be such a rewarding experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything, even if I ultimately don’t end up in the classroom permanently.

What was your reaction to being named to the Substitute Teacher Hall of Fame?

Valerie: I was so touched! While I did share the opportunity with a few of the teachers in my building, I wasn’t sure at the time who even nominated me. Being thought of by my fellow educators – and ultimately getting selected by Swing – reinforced I was doing something good and it really meant a lot.

Throughout my years of subbing, especially with one of my classes in particular, I always just wanted to be there for my students – they are so smart and hilarious! At first I was told some of the students had trust issues with subs because of the high turnover, so I really just wanted to keep showing up every opportunity I had.

What advice do you have for fellow subs or those looking into entering the profession?

Valerie: Every time I enter the classroom, I go in with the mindset that I am the teacher – not ‘just’ a substitute, but the students’ primary educator. I always follow the regular teacher’s directive and ask questions, but also have my own rules and always put in max effort, which students often respect.

I also always have a game plan in place. I have a work hard, play hard mentality so always make sure my students get their work done, but then reward them with the opportunity to play some type of game or have a fun break if time permits. Sometimes I’d play football or basketball with students during outdoor time or challenge them to a dance session. I think it’s all about connecting with students and making compromise, while making sure that learning is prioritized.


To learn more about Valerie Aduba’s journey in education, check out this Swing blog. And, check out the 2021 Substitute Teacher Hall of Fame – nominations for the 2021 class of inductees into the Substitute Teacher Hall of Fame opened Monday, April 5, 2021! Substitute teachers accepted into the Hall of Fame are eligible to receive cash, educational resources, and prizes. The nomination period closes on Sunday, April, 25, 2021.

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