The real MVP

Substitute continues to save the day for Cleveland


Tina Dang

Long-term substitute teacher Peter Henry has filled in for multiple departments at Cleveland. His tie-dyed shirts have made him popular among students.

Ronnie Estoque , Staff reporter

It’s a chemistry teacher! It’s a computer geek! Wait! It’s Super Sub Peter Henry, swooping in to save the day for absent teachers.

Over the last several years, Cleveland, along with the rest of the Seattle Public Schools district, has seen a large teacher turnover rate, leaving multiple positions open that are hard to fill. Long-term substitute Peter Henry has filled in multiple teacher spots over the last three years at Cleveland, become a jack-of-all-trades and a master of them all. Decked out in his trademark tie dyed shirts, he’s become a staple at CHS.

“After I graduated from Yale University, I ended up as a computer engineer for 20 years,” Henry said. “It got a bit boring so I decided to change my profession.”

Henry decided that he wanted to become a teacher, believing that it was an “honorable” profession to pursue. He began taking classes at the University of Washington to earn his teaching certificate but faced an uphill battle.

“When I first applied to the teaching program, I didn’t get in,” Henry said. “The second time I applied I got in after working on some things.”

After earning his degree Henry worked as a substitute for SPS, and ended up landing a job at South Lake High School where he taught math for eight years.  Even after being a teacher at a school for an extended period of time, Henry found his true joy in being a substitute.

“I love it,” Henry said. “I get to go to different places and it’s extremely challenging. My specialty is being able to step into a position that I haven’t taught before and figure out how to teach it successfully.”

In the 2013-14 school year Henry, took over Krysten Pratt’s chemistry class when she went on maternity leave. He eventually became a full-time, long-term substitute, which was something new to him.

“If you’re a teacher, the first year is difficult because you have to figure out the curriculum and how to modify it over the year,” Henry said.

Last year, he started the school year filling in for David Roark’s physical science class and ended it teaching Dr. Scott Wilhelm’s Human Body Systems class. This year Henry is back to his roots with computer science, albeit on a steep learning curve.

“This year I started CS [Computer Science] at the very end of October, and it’s the most difficult teaching job I’ve ever had,” Henry said.

Luckily, he is able to utilize curriculum from previous computer science teachers to build a base for his own class.

Henry is content with where he’s at, and is hopeful for the future.

“I really enjoy what I’m doing but I can see myself doing this for quite a while.”