A glimpse of the substitute life


Emily Leung & Frances Wu, Staff Writer

Substitute teachers are always a nice change for Diamond Bar High School students, but their temporary stay in the classroom gives students little time to learn more about them. Although regular teachers have an entire year develop a close relationship with their students, substitute teachers don’t get the same interaction as they busily fill in for absent teachers.  However, substitutes are just as interesting as DBHS faculty members and with their flexible schedules, even have time to enjoy a few hobbies and passions. Here is a look at three substitute teachers and their lives in and out of the classroom.


Christy Passoth

A familiar face at DBHS, Christy Passoth began teaching for the Walnut Valley School District 30 years ago after previously teaching in Chula Vista. However, in 2012, the English teacher became a substitute teacher, a position she took because she wasn’t ready to retire. Having three credentials, she substitutes for all classes, from kindergarten to the 12th grade.

“I just love the whole educational process. My goal now is to be the absolute best because every day—that’s still a day in [a student’s] life. [It’s] important that they learn something that day,” Passoth commented.

Her favorite part of being a substitute teacher is seeing her former students approach her and even give her hugs when she substitutes at DBHS.

“I am very endeared that [my students] remembered me in a positive way,” Passoth said.

Although she loves being around students, she also knows how to handle the difficulties that come with being a substitute teacher.

“I think the first thing you have to do is establish your authority. I don’t let the students call me ‘sub.’ I am not a submarine; I am a guest teacher, and I tell them my number one rule is: I respect you, you respect me and that will go a long way,” she said.

Aside from her job as a substitute, Passoth is involved in many volunteer organizations such as Soroptimist International and Books for Babes, and actively earns money for breast cancer research.


Maggie Garcia

Maggie Garcia, another substitute in the WVUSD and an alumna of Walnut High School, always knew that she wanted to be a part of the education field as a school counselor. She had worked for the Baldwin Park Unified School District for a few months, then transferred to the Walnut Valley Unified School District during October of 2012. While substituting, she also studies Educational Counseling at the University of La Verne and takes care of her two young sons.

“I decided to become a substitute teacher while enrolled in school with hopes of getting classroom experience and meeting people in the education field. The schedule is flexible and the learning experience is enriching and always keeps me on my toes,” Garcia shared via email.

Though she has only been a substitute teacher for a year and a half, she has experienced both the ups and downs of the job, the hardest being the inability to create rapport with the children. She finds it difficult when students think that they don’t have to do anything for the day because there is a substitute in the classroom.

“It takes some time to gain their respect and to get them on track,” Garcia stated.               She even recalls her first experience as a substitute teacher at Pleasant View Elementary School in Baldwin Park. She was assigned to a special education first grade class; however, because she had no previous experience with children with special needs, she had difficulty knowing what to do when an autistic boy suddenly began running around the classroom screaming and bolted out the door.

Garcia’s most memorable experience was when a student came into his girlfriend’s journalism class and asked her to homecoming with guacamole and chips. Inside the lid was the question, “Will you go to homecoming with me?” She found that moment to be so memorable that she even took a picture of the couple with her iPad to look back on for memories.

“I always wish I could sub in the same classrooms throughout the year more often. When students already know me and my expectations from the beginning of class, things run a lot smoother and our days are much more productive,” Garcia commented.


Mary Forslund

A former teacher at La Puente for four years and at Chaparral Middle School for 35 years, Mary Forslund retired from the Walnut Valley Unified School District just over two years ago. Not accustomed to the peace and quiet during the weekdays, Forslund began subbing for teachers soon after she retired. She has the most expertise in teaching history and English, but has also taught social science in middle school.

“Since I have taught my whole adult life, I decided why not go back to teaching since it is something I love to do and I know I can do it well,” Forslund said via email.

Some of her favorite memories of subbing include going back to Chaparral Middle and Diamond Bar High School to see her former students who remembered her as a teacher. However, like many others, Forslund makes an effort to establish her authority in class.

Over the years, Forslund has also learned that a great teacher is one gives interesting and engaging lessons and has an extreme amount of patience.

“I feel that I have the patience needed to be an effective teacher,” she said.

During her free time, the former history teacher also enjoys going to yard sales, finding collectibles, and reselling them on eBay. Another one of her hobbies is collecting classic cars with her husband. Currently, the couple owns seven cars, enjoys going to car shows, and meeting with their friends from a car club. In the summertime, she and her husband return to Sweden every year and visit their large family.