One of the most challenging positions in elementary and high schools is that of a substitute teacher. Few people realize what it takes to step into a classroom of unfamiliar students and take charge while carrying out an absent teacher’s lesson plan. Substitute teachers are clearly the mostly unacknowledged assets of any school. That’s what makes Kelly Services’ annual award to an outstanding substitute teacher so noteworthy.
Each year, as part of a long-standing tradition and an integral component in demonstrating how Kelly Educational Staffing (KES®), a specialty service of Kelly Services®, values its substitute teachers and paraprofessionals, KES field managers across the U.S. have the opportunity to nominate individuals for a state-level Substitute Teacher of the Year award. This honor is based on performance, feedback and recommendations from permanent teachers and school administrators at the schools where the substitute teacher or paraprofessional has been assigned. State level winners are then eligible for the national Substitute Teacher of the Year award.
This year KES has named Deatrice Napper as the company’s national Substitute Teacher of the Year for the 2015-2016 school year. Ms. Napper’s recognition is based on her outstanding performance and exemplary service as a substitute teacher at East Hartford Middle School in Connecticut.
Napper who has both a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree from Southern University in physical education/health has been a KES substitute teacher for six years in the East Hartford Public Schools. Nominated for this award through more than 80 unique recommendation letters from students and teachers, Napper was first selected as the KES Substitute Teacher of the Year for the state of Connecticut. As a state winner, she then became eligible for the KES national award, the company’s highest honor, and was named the KES National Substitute Teacher of the Year in April.
“The nomination letters overwhelmingly emphasized Ms. Napper’s compassionate nature, including being a caring and committed substitute teacher,” said Scott Apsey, vice president for Kelly Educational Staffing. “Her enthusiasm for teaching, positivity and genuine passion to see each student achieve their best are qualities that make Ms. Napper an ideal recipient of our National Substitute Teacher of the Year award, and we are proud to recognize her with this honor.”
“I love the ‘hands-on’ experience teaching gives me, and it keeps my skills sharp”
— Deatrice Napper
Napper was recognized at a staff meeting on May 4 at East Hartford Middle School attended by Marcia Leclerc, mayor of East Hartford, Nathan Quesnel, superintendent, East Hartford Public Schools; Anthony Menard, principal of East Hartford Middle School; several of the students and teachers who nominated her; family members; and representatives from the local KES office including Eileen Candels, vice president for Hartford; Anita Morrell, senior branch manager; and Rachael Hara, senior staffing supervisor. As part of her state and national award, Napper received a $1,100 bonus award and an additional $1,000 check to donate to the school from KES, which Napper intends to contribute to the school’s media center.
“I have always enjoyed being a teacher ever since I was a little girl pretending that my dolls were my students. When I was fourteen, I helped with lessons during Sunday school, and later during a work study program when I was a few years older, I was encouraged to consider teaching as a profession,” Napper said. “I love the ‘hands-on’ experience teaching gives me, and it keeps my skills sharp. As a building sub, I am familiar with many of the students. While they know that I expect them to get their work done, they also know I am there to help and encourage them to do their best.”
In addition to substitute teaching five days a week, Napper attends many after-school extracurricular events including just about every school basketball game. “Teaching isn’t just in the classroom,” Napper said. “I like being there for the students in a different environment to let them know I support and care about them.” •