"Your Presence Can Make a Difference"
To see a video Gloria Robinson made of her working as a substitute, go to YouTube.
To learn more about the Virtual Career Fair, go to Fair.
APRIL 14, 2021 – After retiring from a career that included serving as a teacher assistant at Bolton, Brunson and Konnoak Elementary Schools, Gloria Robinson came back to work part-time for the school system.
These days, she works as a substitute teacher at Bolton.
It’s work that she finds quite rewarding.
Sue Oetken, Substitute Coordinator for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, sent Robinson an email asking how she was doing and this is how she responded:
“Thanks for checking on me. Oh my, I love it because I get a chance to work with different ages and it’s never a dull moment. LOL.”
“I am actually in a different classroom every day. I sometimes have to split the day like yesterday, for example, I started out in 2nd then kindergarten and then 3rd.”
“A lot of times, teachers have doctor appointments and it’s good to have an on-staff member to fill in when needed. When I’m not assigned to a specific grade level, I work with small groups in the lower grades. A teacher may be out for any number of reasons and I’ve had to cover their classrooms for that week.”
“I am glad I did my Canvas classes online when I wasn’t working. It better prepared me for when I was assigned to a class.”
“I must tell you something funny. I went to a fourth-grade class for three days and one young girl said, “I heard about you. You were my sister’s teacher yesterday. She said you are tough like her grandmother.”
“I smiled and said, “Well, then, you know my rules already and what I expect.” The other kids got quiet and looked at her.”
“I hope this position will be available next year.”
On Saturday April 17, WS/FCS is holding a Virtual Career Fair. Along with other positions, the school system is looking to hire people to serve as substitute teachers.
“We need substitutes for all grade levels and every day of the week,” Oetken stated.
"The beauty in being a sub is that you can pick what schools you want to work at, you can pick the grade levels you prefer to teach, and you can choose what days you want to work."
"You can work day by day or you can choose one of many long-term sub assignments that become available."
When asked why someone might want to serve as a substitute, Robinson replied, “Your presence can make a difference.”
To do the job well, she said, “It’s important that children matter to you. You have got to care for children.”
Robinson also said: “If you care, you can have a strong positive impact on students. That’s what it is all about – making a difference. When parents send their children to school, they are sending the best they have to offer to us.”
Bolton is the only school where Robinson works as a substitute. Because she is retired, she can work no more than 29 hours a week.
Cheryl Frazier is the principal at Bolton.
"I appreciate Mrs. Robinson so much," Frazier said. "She's a joy to work with!"
"I have absolutely appreciated having the role of Priority Sub in our building this year as it allows for better continuity and student support."
Robinson works with students from Pre-K to 5th grade. She enjoys them all. Her favorite grade is second grade because she enjoys watching them get a sense of the bigger world.
“Some days do have some bumps in them,” she said. “Monday April 12 was one of those days because students were returning from spring break and adjusting to being back in school.”
Every day, though, is ultimately satisfying.
“There is never a dull moment,” she said.
To support students without being intrusive, she always pays attention. Once, when she saw a student slipping some food into a book bag, she spoke one-on-one with the student and ask why the student was taking food. To her surprise, she learned that there was a younger sibling at home with nothing to eat.
Robinson has a long and rich history with Bolton and it’s a world that she knows quite well and loves.
After working there as a full-time teacher assistant, she began working part-time as a clerical assistant after she retired in 2011. She has been working as a substitute since the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.
Robinson grew up Winston-Salem and graduated from East Forsyth High School in 1971.
She began her education at Fairview Elementary School, which later became Ashley Elementary. She could have gone on to what was then Paisley Junior High, but as part of the school system’s early efforts to integrate schools more fully, she was invited to go to Hanes Junior High School for 7th grade.
Academically, everything was fine, she said, but sometimes “hurtful comments were made” by white students. That was stressful for Robinson and after7th grade, she told her mother she didn’t want to go back. She enrolled at Paisley for 8th and 9th grade.
After finishing at Paisley, she went on to Carver High School for her sophomore and junior years. As part of the school-system reorganization, 12th grade at Carver was not an option for Robinson. For her senior year, she lived with an aunt and rode the bus that stopped in the neighborhood to take Black students to East Forsyth High School.
One advantage at East Forsyth was the new textbooks. Before, Robinson was accustomed only to used and worn textbooks.
“Never in my whole life had I gotten a new textbook before,” she said.
At East Forsyth, Robinson met the director of the Caprice Singers. She was invited to join the chorus, which sometimes traveled to perform. Robinson became the first Black student to sing in the group.
After graduating from East Forsyth, Robinson went to N.C. Central University. She left after three years to get married and start a family. She has three children. Later, while her twin daughters were in college, she attended and graduated magna cum laude from High Point University.
Not all of Robinson’s work before retiring was with the school system. She began participating in the N.C State Retirement System by going to work for the Forsyth County Public Library as a library assistant and leaving as the Department Head of the Adult Outreach Services.
After 16 years there, she joined WS/FCS in 1996. Fifteen years with the school system gave her more than 30 years she needed to retire.
In August, Robinson will turn 68. She has no plans to fully retire, though. She’s having way too much fun!
For the moment, she said, her plan is to keep working as a substitute “as long as they will have me.”
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