Just because he’s not a policeman anymore doesn’t mean former sergeant Barry Bryant can’t continue to serve the community.
Bryant, who retired last summer as a sergeant from the Grand Rapids Police Department, decided to become a substitute teacher for the local Northview Public Schools while studying for his master’s degree in counseling education from Western Michigan University.
Bryant, whose mother and sister were substitute teachers and professors respectively, was new to the job, but his police training and mentality came in handy in the classroom.
“As a police officer, I don’t get flustered,” Bryant said. “Keeping things calm and orderly: I can do that.”
During a time when it can be hard to find substitute teachers, Bryant was eager for the opportunity to split his team between teaching and studying. “I was like, this is perfect,” he recalled.
Aimee Rayborn, Northview human resources specialist, told School News Network about the teacher shortage brought on by COVID and the challenges it presented. She explained that some substitutes worried about possible exposure to the virus, while newer teachers were prevented from completing their certifications.
In order to recruit more subs from the community, Rayborn said they put out a newsletter, in addition to the districts usual “passive advertising” in the form of yard signs and online banner ads.
She said, “This year we felt we needed to be more proactive. You just can’t predict what the impact of COVID is going to do to your teaching staff, how it will affect who is going to show up for work each day.”
The result of the newsletter was “phenomenal” according to Rayborn.
Bryant was one of those who responded to the newsletter and attended a sub signing event.
Some of his tips for teaching include being thankful for teachers leaving lesson plans, and that every new teacher gets nervous, but that it “goes with the territory.”
Bryant, who is black, also said it was a good opportunity for him to be a different role model to kids, saying that he didn’t have a black teacher until he was in college. He recalled that some kids “gravitate to him” and respond to him differently.
Finally, just like policing, no day on the job is the same. “Every day is going to be different,” he said.