Curt Plaxco may be a familiar name to local residents as he is the pastor at the Church of the Nazarene but something folks may not know about him is that he has been a substitute teacher with Stephenville ISD for 11 years.
“I taught school from 1996-1999, I have a teaching certificate, and then I went in to becoming a pastor. So when I moved to Stephenville I just needed a little extra income and I thought, ‘What can I do where I can work my other job as well?’” Plaxco said. “I’d never tried (substitute teaching) before. I was actually kind of intimidated because you remember how you treated subs when you were in school and so I was a little bit afraid at first.”
Plaxco was a fourth grade teacher, but has now done most of his substitute teaching at Stephenville High School.
“The kids in Stephenville are different, they’re really respectful and a lot of fun to be around,” Plaxco said.
Though Plaxco has a teaching certificate, he went through all the proper training required at Stephenville ISD where they teach proper discipline, different techniques, keeping kids safe and other classroom-related issues.
“You have to do that every year, you go through some training and have to watch a few videos just to keep you up to date,” he said.
When asked what he enjoys about subbing, Plaxco said there are many things he likes about his position.
“I like the relationships. Just getting to know them and seeing them grow up,” he said. “It’s a small town so you see all of them because they come through the same schools, so you get to see them change.”
Plaxco adds that he also enjoys the relationships he has built with the SISD teachers.
“We have great teachers in Stephenville and they work really really hard,” he said. “I don’t know how they do it every day. I’m just there twice a week and so I get a break from all the pressure. People don’t understand that teaching is eight hours of constant pressure. So you have a lot of respect for the teachers, they do a good job and Stephenville is very blessed with some good teachers and they really care about the kids.”
Teaching some of the same students over several years, Plaxco likes being able to help the kids not only with their studies but with their attitudes and pointing them in the right direction.
“You can sometimes help them realize if they’re going the wrong way, so that’s really rewarding,” he said.
Plaxco said he will stick with subbing fifth grade and up because the kids are becoming independent.
“Those younger ones, they can wear you out. I taught fourth grade, but I only did it for three years and it’s just exhausting. I found that fifth and sixth graders are old enough where they can do things on their own,” Plaxco said. “I like the high school best because I like the conversations with the kids being almost adults and so they get your humor, jokes and they know about world events and so it’s interesting to hear their perspective.”
Though there are many things Plaxco likes about subbing at Stephenville ISD, there are challenges he experiences as well.
“The technology is one thing because we’re not trained on it and most teachers know that so they don’t leave you a real complicated lesson,” he said. “I’m out of loop on technology.”
But Plaxco said the hardest thing in substitute teaching at multiple schools is discipline procedures.
“Since you’re not in there all the time you don’t know the flow, so you’re not in that same environment of this is their discipline plan on this campus,” he said. “And each teacher is a tad bit different. That’s probably the hardest part. I mean we don’t have a lot of discipline problems in the schools, but when there is one knowing what’s appropriate can be difficult.”
Over the past 11 years, Plaxco hasn’t had any sort of major issues with students or the district and will continue on his path of substitute teaching and being a pastor.
“Stephenville kids are good, they are, and we’re blessed to live in Stephenville,” Plaxco said. “My kids are in school and I can’t imagine going anywhere else because things are nice here.”