Mr. Chapman connects with students as a substitute teacher


Making sure he is on time, Mr. John Chapman enters his latest unfamiliar classroom and goes over the notes the teacher has left for him. As students begin to file into the room, he recognizes and says hello to some familiar faces, and there are smiles around the room, as, one-by-one, the students realize they have Chapman as their substitute teacher for the day.

Chapman has been subbing at Central for four years now, quickly establishing himself as one of the favorite substitute teachers among students.

“I don’t know [why students seem to like me],” Chapman said. “Perhaps it has to do with maintaining an atmosphere that allows the kids to get a lot of work done. Another reason students may like me is that I take an interest in how they are doing in their extracurricular [activities].”

Mike Guerrero, junior, agrees with Chapman about this reason.

“If we get through his sub plans, we’ll always end up talking about baseball,” Guerrero said.

As far as standing out from other frequent substitute teachers at the school, Chapman does not feel he consciously does anything differently from other subs, but he does seem to have a certain ‘home field advantage.’

“I do know a lot of the kids from the neighborhood, from carpooling, coaching sports, so I have a comfort level with them, and I get a good kick of being around them in school,” Chapman said.

Chapman also admits there are times when knowing students helps keep his classes under control and on task.

“I had a kid in class whose sister and parents I knew,” Chapman said. “He was sleeping. I woke him and asked how his parents were, by name. He was surprised I knew them, and from that time on, he was always on task.”

Another thing that sets Chapman apart from other substitute teachers is that he has two daughters who attended Central in previous years and one son that is currently a student here at Central.

“I was nervous the first time I had (my dad as a sub) because I thought he would think that everyone at our school was weird, but I’ve had him (as a sub) seven or eight times now, so now I’m used to it, and now I look forward to when he subs for me,” said Ben Chapman, junior and Chapman’s son.

Chapman agreed with his son, conceding that his favorite classes to sub for are any classes his kids are in, but he insists he shows no favoritism in those rare instances.

“[I give Ben] no special treatment,” Chapman said. “If anything, I hold him to a higher standard, and, if he doesn’t like that, he can take it up at home with me.”

Despite the positive feedback Chapman receives from students and teachers, he confesses he has made a few mistakes.

“I accidentally gave a class a test instead of a study guide,” Chapman said. “The test was the next day. It was funny and embarrassing when I realized my mistake and hurriedly collected the tests.”

Regardless, the familiar Mr. Chapman always seems to come as a pleasant surprise for students when their teacher is gone.

“[Mr. Chapman] always has a smile on his face and a great attitude,” Guerrero said. “I look forward to having him as a sub.”

“Everyday it seems like someone comes up to me to say they’ve had my dad as a teacher, and I’ve gotten a lot of comments that they all like him a lot, so that’s pretty cool,” Ben Chapman said.

Student fans of Chapman are in luck, as he has no plans to stop his substitute teaching career at Central any time soon.

“The atmosphere at Central is very positive,” Chapman said. “The kids are great, and it’s fun to be around so many [kids] that I have seen grow up. I hope to continue as a substitute teacher for as long as circumstances allow.”