An Inside Look at RHS’ Preferred Subs


Photo by Gili Golan

Substitute James Hopkins has been a regular sub at RHS, often for social studies and English classes.

Gili Golan, Staff Writer

The unsung heroes of the hallways, substitute teachers.

Roaming the hallways some days and not others, students often don’t get the chance to get to know their substitute teachers because they only see them sporadically, but many MCPS substitutes have amazing backgrounds and stories which have led them to RHS’ halls today.    

Annabelle Jaffe has been strolling the halls of MCPS schools every day for the past 50 years. Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio to European immigrants from Ukraine and Russia, Jaffe moved to Montgomery County with her husband who had a job waiting for him in Maryland as a biochemist. Jaffe immediately began her career in MCPS at Wheaton HS as a guidance counselor and did so until she retired in 2012 at the age of 90.   

“The truth of the matter is, I love children, and after I retired I began to miss the kids,” Jaffe said, who had one son with her husband until his early passing in 2011. This left her with no grandchildren and therefore an even greater love for children and a job where she could fulfill this love every day, she added.

Jaffe has overcome these hardships and many obstacles by finding a purpose in life and challenging herself through the work she has done in schools. Getting up every morning and heading to one school or another gives Jaffe the push and motivation that she says she needs to keep herself going.

“The most challenging thing would be to find a student who is totally indifferent to learning and to try to find what I would do to motivate the student,” Jaffe said. “I would use different techniques and in most cases I was able to be successful.”

Jaffe is not the only substitute teacher with a story roaming the halls of RHS. James Hopkins has been a class favorite for over nine years as a substitute teacher all around the county.

Hopkins had a long career in corporate finance before becoming a substitute teacher and it is not something that he takes lightly. Hopkins prides himself on his focus and ability to educate kids daily, even if it may just be for the first and last time.

As a substitute, running into students that remember me and hearing how as a substitute I helped them in some way…I am doing this for no one else but them,” said Hopkins, who prides himself on keeping it professional in the classroom. “As you know I am not here to babysit. Work hard, follow the rules and play hard.”

Junior Reggie Johnson is one of many who understands the challenges that substitutes encounter and the important role they play in students’ everyday school lives, filling in for crucial roles daily.

“Substitutes have to deal with kids differently than when they are with their real teacher which makes it more difficult for them to teach and get through to us,” said Johnson who thinks that being a substitute teacher is one of the hardest and most unappreciated positions that one can have in any school, regardless of age or educational ability.

While both of these part time teachers recognize that there is a bigger picture to teaching, it is Jaffe who stresses the notion that every student needs to find something that inspires them to wake up every day because that is what keeps life moving. She thinks that no one in life gets too far without some pleasure and hobbies, doing something that they love to do.

“You need to have a purpose in life. No matter how old you are, you can’t just veg around at home,” she said. “Whether it be a hobby or a job, just something that you love.”