Patty Schipper says her job as a substitute teacher is a lot like her husband Ron’s job as a firefighter.
“We never know from one minute to the next where we will be working,” she says. “We just have to be ready when they call.”
Schipper is a substitute teacher and is certified to teach from early education through sixth grade. She has taught in all three elementary schools in the Dallas Center-Grimes School District.
“I would prefer to have my own classroom, but I enjoy being a sub. I like going into the different classrooms and exploring how the different teachers do things. I like working with children a lot.”
Schipper grew up in York, Pa., and enlisted in the Army Reserves right out of high school.
“I worked in the personnel area, and it gave me the structure of being organized, which helps me now,” Schipper says. “It also pushed me beyond what I thought I could do mentally and physically. It was an experience I wouldn’t trade, ever.”
She met her husband, Ron, in 1993, while they served in the military together; he was regular Army. They married in 1995 and she retired from the military, but Ron continued. They lived in Germany for three years as part of his tour of duty.
“While we were a military family, we moved every two or three years, so it was hard for me to get any advanced education,” Schipper says. When he retired from the military, they moved to Grimes and have raised their family here. Their twin boys are seniors at Dallas Center-Grimes High School, and their daughter is in ninth grade at Meadows School.
“When we settled here, I began classes at Simpson College and earned my degree in elementary education with endorsements in early childhood, reading and social studies,” she says. “What I bring to teaching also are my life experiences.”
Schipper began her student teaching in the Des Moines public schools.
“I’ve had quite the diversity in teaching. I feel I can handle diversity, she says. “Student teaching at one school I had seven kindergartners who could speak no English. By the time I finished, they were raising their hands and answering questions. I student taught in Head Start, integrated with special ed preschool. It was very challenging, but I loved it”
Being a substitute teacher has many challenges as well, she says.
“One day I may teach fifth grade and the next find myself in a kindergarten class.”