Judy Moore Fills in for 24 Years and Counting.

by | Mar 2024

FORGET TESTS and workbooks; Judy Moore’s lesson plan is a smile seasoned with 24 years of wisdom and a hug. While most of us battle against the tyranny of alarm clocks, Moore’s eyes light up at the sound of the school bell. Her journey? It’s not your typical starry-eyed teacher’s tale. House cleaning, flexibility, and a daughter’s need were the unlikely ingredients that led her to the vibrant chaos of substitute teaching. What started as a practical solution became a passion that ignited her spirit. 

“I enjoy every minute that I’m here – you get to meet a lot of great kids. Some of them are [now] grown with kids of their own, and I’ve subbed their kids, and it’s been great,” said Moore.

Highland Rim kept her busy for the first 18 years. Moore’s idea of slowing down was to switch to the city schools. She subs regularly now for Ralph Askins, Fayetteville Middle School, Fayetteville High School, and, occasionally, Lincoln County High School. 

Calls requesting Moore to fill in for a teacher ensure she’ll see her favorite people again and again. Late-night calls that usually irritate us are music to her ears. 

She said, “People ask me which is my favorite grade, but I can’t pick because I love them all. And I’ve worked with great people. You can’t beat the teachers or principals I’ve worked with; they’ve been really good to me.“

So good to her that when she took a tumble in the parking lot following a fire drill, she wanted to return to school the next day. 

“It happened so fast. The teachers stayed with me, kept talking to me, and called the ambulance. The vice principal called me at the hospital to see how I was doing. They told me to take the day off, and I’m glad they did. When I came back to school, my eyes were black, and the kids were worried and asked, ‘Are you doing better?’ It makes you feel good,” said Moore.

Another often-asked question that makes her feel good is, “When are you subbing for us again, Ms. Judy?”

Whether walking through the halls or running errands, her face is as familiar as the teachers on staff.

“I meet a lot of different kids, and they’ll introduce me to their parents, and I enjoy that. They make me feel special,” said Moore. “At school, they just make my day when they come up and hug me and tell me they love me or miss me.”

At a time when more than half our nation’s teachers and other school staff are indicating they’re leaving education careers earlier than planned, and the shortage of substitute teachers is greater than ever before, Moore’s commitment is a genuine reflection of the joy she finds in the classroom. And while someone else who enjoys it so much might pursue a teaching degree, she’s happy filling in.

“They have kept me busy for the 24 years I’ve been subbing, and I wouldn’t change it for anything,” Moore said. “Some ask me why I didn’t get my teaching degree, but I didn’t want to because I like to meet every class, the teachers, and the principals. I don’t want to be in one classroom.”

As challenging as the classroom can be, she watches for opportunities to help a student. Moore knows that even things as small as handing out papers or delivering something to or from the office can encourage students.

She said, “I can go in and spot a kid that’s struggling and try to work with them. I try to find the ones that need help and call them up to my desk or work with them at their desk. You see the need and help them as much as you can, sometimes just giving a hug. Others are independent and can do it, so I try to find the ones who need the help. And I love to help teach them to read.”

From her seat in so many classrooms over the years, she has the benefit of watching them grow.

“You’re amazed how much they grow from the beginning when school starts to the end of the year. That’s the reward right there,” said Moore.

And it’s not just the students who’ve grown. With each passing year and through the various classes she subs, Moore learns and grows alongside them. 

She may not have her own classroom, but Moore’s name echoes through the hallways. As she stops for hugs and hellos, making her way back to her room for the day, her heart is full. She found her life’s purpose not in a title but in the infinite possibilities that blossom within the walls of Fayetteville and Lincoln County classrooms. GN

More Good News

Karen McCulloch Is a Connector.

Karen McCulloch Is a Connector.

FAMILY IS full of ups and downs, but it’s also where we leave from and go back to. At its best, it’s where we belong. At its worst, it’s where we wish to go or return to — that place of belonging. ...

read more
A Fourth Quarter Fan

A Fourth Quarter Fan

FORGET YOUR most potent, most aromatic memories of high school locker rooms. Lincoln County High School’s football locker room is saturated with the winning spirit of three state championship...

read more
The story continues

The story continues

RALPH ASKINS School has been Karrie Pittenger’s second home for most of her life. A safe, inviting environment is the heart of any home. It’s the same atmosphere Pittenger wanted for students and...

read more