To honor substitute teachers who are making a difference in the lives of students, and in celebration of National Substitute Teacher Appreciation Week, Swing Education is celebrating the Second Annual Substitute Teacher Hall of Fame. 

The second annual class includes three educators who were selected for their outstanding contributions to the students, teachers, schools, and communities they serve: Sheeja Mathews, Jennifer Rutledge, and Jim Strang.

Introducing the 2020 Substitute Teacher Hall of Fame Class


Sheeja Mathews


Sheeja has been a teacher for over 10 years. She is currently a substitute teacher with Swing at multiple schools in Bergen County, NJ.


Sheeja has been an educator for over 10 years and says she wanted to be a teacher for as long as she can remember. She believes that, "a teacher gets to empower young minds, positively influence their lives, and witness the development of their thinking."

She has worked over 85 days as an educator through the Swing platform. Her nominations were submitted by colleagues and principals from the schools she has subbed at.

“Sheeja made a huge difference to our school. She made amazing connections with our students. A true professional with a passion for teaching. Sheeja was always ready for any challenge in our school. Versatile in any subject or grade she was assigned to." - Elizabeth Barbagallo,  Administrative Assistant, Woodside Avenue School

“Flexible, Reliable, Dedicated.” - Ann Jameson, Principal, Franklin Lakes Public Schools

"I am nominating Ms. Mathews for the Substitute Teacher Hall Of Fame because I have seen how she is able to come into a difficult situation and making it an amazing opportunity and experience for herself and her students." - Cathy Hoogendoorn, Colleague, Franklin Lakes Public Schools


Jennifer Rutledge


Jennifer was a substitute teacher in Mt. Vernon, IL. She will be starting as a first grade classroom teacher when the 2020-2021 school year begins.


After a six year hiatus from teaching, Jennifer began substitute teaching during the 2019-2020 school year in a fifth grade class for eight months. She said that on the first day, "it was like I never stopped teaching. Everything from classroom management to lesson planning occurred naturally."

Jennifer is known to purchase school supplies from her own funds when needed, and felt as though it was her purpose to serve as, "a mentor, advocate, and educator" for all of her students. She received nominations by colleagues at the district she subbed in.

"Jennifer has gone above and beyond throughout the year. She started substituting for a class where the teacher had to leave due to medical issues. She formed positive relationships with the students and families throughout the year. She spends additional hours nurturing the relationships with the students. Even through this nationwide pandemic, she continues to work with the students in this class. She makes phone calls daily and holds multiple Zoom meetings with groups and individuals, depending on the need of the students. She has embraced this new normal of e-learning without missing a beat." - April Hertenstein, Social Worker, J.L. Buford Intermediate Center

"Jennifer has not only been an asset to her students, but their families too. She has kept an open line of communication and have kept families up-to-date on what is going on in school. She has developed a rapport with her students that has extended to the families level of trust in Jennifer. Jennifer is also an excellent coworker. She goes out of her way to help other members of staff, and is also humble enough to ask for help or advice." - Michelle Hays, Teacher, Mount Vernon District 80


Jim Strang


Jim has been a substitute teacher in Avon, OH for over 12 years.


Jim grew up believing he would be a teacher, however after time at Kent State University, he began a 40-year career as a reporter, correspondent, editor, and eventually an award-winning editorial writer and columnist. After his time in the journalism world, he began going "stir-crazy" and decided to go back to his education dreams and begin subbing. He claims the "secret to successful subbing is flexibility and adaptability," and that his "style developed as relaxed, but in control, with more than a touch of my Thespian drama skills coming into play in such classes as social studies and language arts, where the materials allow it."

Jim received a record amount of over 60 nominations. Submissions were made by students, colleagues, friends, and parents from Avon Middle School.

"Mr. Strang has truly impacted many students in the Avon Middle School. He is such a great role model for many students to look up to. And it is very inspiring to watch his passion and love for teaching show every time he subs in one of my classes. I know for sure that Mr.Strang has impacted my life in many ways and I am so glad to have him as one of my substitute teachers. He definitely deserves being in the substitute hall of fame!!" - Student, Avon Middle School 

"Mr. Strang has impacted all of our lives beyond what words can describe.  He uses his own experiences to shape his relationships with students and staff. He is truly loved by both. Personally, Mr. Strang has taught me the importance of family and support. He has stood in my corner for the past 8 years and has always been my number 1 fan in the classroom and on the court." - Meghan Larrick, 7th Grade Math Teacher, Avon Middle School

""Mr. Strang takes every opportunity he can to be a part of our school day as a substitute. No matter the grade level or the subject area-if a day is open-he is there! Mr. Strang can take any subject area and make it come to life for our middle school students. First of all, the presence of Mr. Strang walking down the halls sends electricity through students as you hear them buzzing with excitement...""Will he be our sub today??"" He has a very candid way of addressing the curriculum and making it meaningful even if it is the first time he is seeing it himself! He is definitely a life-long learner and shares that enthusiasm with the students. With given notice, Mr. Strang has been known to dress the part, especially during the Civil War unit-one of his favorites!  He is always aware of our school spirit days and participates in a memorable way to show school pride. If we have field day, school wide assemblies, talent show-he is the first to volunteer to support the event anyway he can. On his free moments during the school day, he is always sure to walk the halls to greet our many staff members and is always welcomed conversation in the staff lounge!" - Stephanie Reichert, 6th Grade Teacher, Avon Middle School

"Jim is a 75 year old beloved member of the Avon Schools. He not only substitute teaches for grades 6-12, but also attends as many boys and girls basketball games, football games, band and orchestra concerts, and any other extra curricular activity that he possibly can.  Recently the 6th graders invited Jim to go on a field trip with them to Severence Hall knowing how much he loves concerts so much. The students absolutely ADORE him." - Mary Widman, 6th Grade Social Studies, Avon Middle School

View past winners: 2019