Lipton named top substitute

Published 11:14 pm Thursday, January 8, 2009

Lisa Lipton has always wanted to teach.

While growing up in New York and in high school, Lipton had a love of history and wanted to pursue a career teaching the subject fulltime.

But by the time she graduated high school, she and a friend had decided to go to fashion school, and teaching got pushed to the back burner.


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After graduating, relocating to Virginia and having her first child, Lipton finally found her way to the classroom.

Lipton began substitute teaching in the fall of 2006 in order to have a schedule similar to her son, Zachary — he started kindergarten at Kilby Shores Elementary in 2006.

Lipton said she instantly knew the job was for her.

“I loved the kids and I’ve been doing it ever since,” she said.

For more than two years, Lipton has taught in classrooms across the city, from first-grade all the way through high school.

On Monday, the Suffolk Substitute Teachers’ Association named Lipton the 2008 Substitute Teacher of the Year.

“A lot of times when most of the substitute teachers are called they say, ‘I only want to maybe go into elementary,’ or ‘I don’t want to go into high schools,’ but Ms. Lipton was very comfortable going into any school and I was very impressed with that,” said Freddie J. Wiggins, president of the SSTA.

“I like it because you always have a different challenge,” Lipton said of working with varying ages.

Sometimes those challenges include learning new material.

One day, Lipton was teaching a fourth-grade class at Southwestern Elementary School. The class was studying Virginia history for social studies, and one of the students asked Lipton a question about the state’s beginnings.

“I said, ‘Well, let me find out for you,’ and they looked at me funny. So, I had to tell them, ‘I’m from New York,’ and they all got it and then helped me out from there,” Lipton said. “Trust me, after that incident, I’ve been studying up on my Virginia history.”

It’s all part of the job, she said.

Wiggins also praised Lipton’s professionalism, dedication to her students and overall enthusiasm for her job.

“In the classroom, she is responsible and she accepts the responsibility for her class very well,” he said.

Lipton said the award is an honor and a validation of her time spent with the city’s students.

“I got the phone call Monday, and I was shocked,” she said. “To me, it means I’m doing my job, and I’m being recognized for doing a good job. I’m very appreciative of that.”