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  • Writer's pictureReach University

Announcement | Partnership to launch "Substitute-to-Teacher Pathway" for California's 20k+ Subs

Updated: Mar 21, 2023


March 7, 2023


Reach University & Substantial Classrooms Partner with California K-12 School Systems to Expand “Grow Your Own” Initiatives Through Barrier-Free & Hands-On Substitute-to-Teacher Program

(SAN FRANCISCO, California) – March 7, 2023 – Oakland-based Reach University and Substantial Classrooms announced today a partnership to deploy a fully job-embedded “Sub-to-Teacher Pathway” across a broad swath of California K-12 school systems. The program will add a new pillar to a district’s “grow-your-own” talent strategy by equipping high-potential substitute teachers with an on-the-job pathway to professional development, mentorship, and a teaching credential in three years or less.

California’s substitute teacher workforce offers a significant short- and long-term talent pipeline in part of tackling the state’s qualified teacher shortage. Substantial estimates that 30%, or roughly 20,000, of current California substitutes, aspire to become credentialed teachers. Yet, complex processes, a lack of professional development, and heavy financial and time constraints prevent many from pursuing a career in teaching, leaving a significant talent pool untapped.

“When it comes to so many of our systemic labor shortages, the talent we’re desperately searching for is right in front of us, already working within the walls of our employers, asking for the right training and resources to achieve that next step in their career,” said Joe E. Ross, President, Reach University. “We are proud to partner closely with Substantial and districts across our home state to not only reach a high-potential talent pool in part of filling critical vacancies, but to also leverage Substantial and Reach’s individual strengths to place thousands of Californians on a path to a good job and professional career.”

Reach University and Substantial Classroom’s partnership shares a mission to ensure K-12 school systems can build a local, representative, and classroom-ready teaching workforce. Substantial will lead immediate competency-based professional development to improve the near-term confidence and quality of a substitute’s work, and will offer professional advising as an aspiring teacher explores the path to becoming a full-time, qualified teacher.

Reach University will lead advising as the substitute moves towards enrolling in the teacher credential portion of the program and the larger curricula and job-embedded experience. Aspiring teachers will leverage their time in the classroom as they move through credential curriculum, transitioning from a substitute to a Teacher of Record role following pre-residency and Educator Preparation Program completion. All candidates will have the option to complete a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in part of the program.

“Substitute teachers make exceptional teacher candidates because they are in classrooms every day learning the needs of students, exploring curriculums, and getting to know how schools work. Substitute teachers tend to be dedicated to the school districts where they are working. The professional learning and on-the-job support systems created by the Substantial/Reach partnership are invaluable tools for candidates who want to continue earning an income as educators in a supportive environment while preparing and completing their teaching internship,” said Erin Ruegg, Director of Teaching and Learning, Substantial Classrooms.

The Sub-to-Teacher Pathway is offered to all California K-12 school systems in support of strengthening substitute teaching today and building the teacher workforce of tomorrow. For all interested California-based districts, please visit to learn more. The program is now accepting new partnerships for fall ‘23.


Reach University is a regionally accredited, non-profit university that pioneers apprenticeship-based degrees and credentials. Reach is actively solving America's teacher shortage by creating fully-embedded pathways for high-potential individuals to earn degrees, credentials and jobs as teachers within their own communities. By focusing on low-income, urban and rural regions, offering online tutorials and classes, and rendering academic credit for on-the-job experience, Reach University is eliminating barriers to entry in high-need professions, and building grow-your-own pipelines of locally representative talent.


Substantial is a national nonprofit on a mission to unlock the potential of substitute teaching. Substantial runs SubSchool, which partners with districts, regional offices, and state offices of education to provide PD and ongoing support for substitute teachers.

Substantial’s co-founders Jill Vialet and Amanda von Moos are the co-authors of Substantial Classrooms: Reimagining the Substitute Teaching Experience (Jossey-Bass, 2021) and frequent speakers on both human-centered design and substitute teaching.


Lauren Bauml, Reach University

Mobile: (512) 923-6136


Please visit to learn more or become a California district partner.

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