Changing young lives a few days a week is the perfect way to give back to the community. Here’s how two Traverse City healthcare workers chose substitute teaching as their second career—and how you can do it too.

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Healthcare workers Jen and Drew Trusman make meaningful connections with others each day, and earlier this year their commitment to serving led to an entirely new way of supporting their community.

Jen and Drew, who are parents of three children ages 16, 14 and 12, decided to substitute teach for Traverse City Area Public Schools during the 2021-22 school year after hearing about staff shortages.

“We wanted to keep kids in school because we value the importance of face-to-face learning as well as the social interaction that is so important to the development of kids,” Jen says. “We also wanted to support the hard-working teachers and staff at TCAPS. It felt like a way to give back to our community that would have a real impact.”

“Sometimes the world’s problems can seem overwhelming, but you just have to start somewhere,” she adds. “This felt like a good place for us to start.”

Couple in front of school in Traverse City

Photo by Dave Weidner

Couple in front of school in Traverse City

Photo by Dave Weidner

As a new school year begins, TCAPS continues to provide opportunities for guest teachers and substitute assistants/aides. Along with supporting your local school district during a critical time of need, these positions offer flexible schedules and pay rates starting at $18/hour and up to $29.04 for some assignments. A bonus program offers up to an additional $15 per day.

Guest teachers and substitute assistants/aides receive:

  • A flexible work schedule—choose where and when you work through the district’s online substitute scheduling system
  • Opportunities to develop valuable skills, impact students and build meaningful relationships
  • Virtual training, as well as on-the-job development and resources

The Trusmans, who picked up teaching shifts on days off, say the TCAPS staff always welcomed them, at whatever school they taught.

“For us, the most meaningful moments were the hugs we’d get from the kids, especially the elementary students,” says Drew, a pediatrician at Grand Traverse Children’s Clinic.

Jen, who works part time as a physician assistant in urology at Munson Healthcare, also enjoyed her time subbing at the middle school level and the connections she made with students there.

“Just a few kind words can let kids know you care and you believe in them,” she says. “Plus, we have gained a tremendous respect for the amount of work our teachers do after experiencing it first-hand.”

Jen and Drew, who plan to continue serving as substitute teachers this year, encourage others to give it a try.

Couple in front of school in Traverse City

Photo by Dave Weidner

“It is very flexible. TCAPS uses an app called WillSub that alerts you of a job opening and allows you to choose jobs that work for your schedule—some shifts are just a few hours and others are all day,” Jen explains. “Anyone who is looking for a way to give back to the community, this is a great opportunity. We have found the more often you substitute teach, the easier it gets. Subbing has truly been a special experience.”

For more information, visit or call the TCAPS guest teacher office at 231.933.1714.

Photo(s) by Dave Weidner