Students Got This Substitute Teacher To Go Outside – But Then He Realized They Had Plans For Payback

For some educators, taking on the role of a substitute teacher can be incredibly rewarding. Douglas High’s Mr. Gonzales can certainly attest to that, as he’s been a sub at the Nevada school for over 15 years. However, when his students tricked him into going outside one day, the veteran teacher was greeted by a huge surprise.

In the education sector, there are few jobs harder than that of the substitute teacher. For years, that particular role has, unfortunately, been tainted by the perception that students take advantage of the stand-in over the duration of the class. At times, it surely can be a thankless role.

However, despite that negative perception, a few people have felt the need to stand up for substitutes in recent times. Indeed, writer Randy Jurado Ertll was one such individual, as he wrote a passionate blog post on the matter back in 2014. Boasting some teaching experience himself, Ertll demanded more respect for the subs in schools across the country.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Substitute teachers deserve respect,” Ertll wrote for the Huffington Post in August 2014. “Let me tell you, it takes courage and commitment to be a substitute teacher. We have to deal not just with students who are messing around, but also with students who are screaming at us or throwing objects at us.”

“Sometimes, we have to contend with the threat or the reality of being assaulted by a student,” Ertll continued. “It is no piece of cake.” From there, the author then spoke about the skill set that a substitute teacher needs, touching on the difficulties that come along with that.

ADVERTISEMENT

“It takes years of experience to learn certain classroom management and teaching skills,” Ertll wrote. “You have to be an expert in most subject fields, since you may be assigned a math, science, English or even physical education class on short notice. It can be an unpredictable job, but substitute teachers become nimble, efficient and effective in navigating various public school bureaucracies.”

ADVERTISEMENT

However, alongside that unpredictability, Ertll also touched upon the unseen downsides of being a substitute teacher in America. Indeed, while they might face more problems in a classroom than a full-time teacher, the subs aren’t receiving the same financial benefits as their colleagues.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The sad reality is that substitute teachers have been getting the short end of the stick for way too long,” Ertll continued. “Most receive only a fraction of what regular teachers get paid. Most have no union representation or a retirement plan.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“Fed up, some substitute teachers are finally beginning to organize throughout the United States to demand that their pay be more equivalent to that of full-time teachers,” Ertll added. On that note, the newspaper columnist then made a thoughtful plea on behalf of the subs, stressing their importance.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We need to treat substitute teachers fairly,” Ertll concluded. “Let us show substitute teachers that we appreciate and respect their work. In the toughest of circumstances, they do not back down. Every day, they are showing our young people that it takes resilience and fortitude to do a job right.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Despite the relatively bleak picture that Ertll painted, though, one substitute teacher in Minden, Nevada, has managed to navigate the choppy waters. Indeed, the experienced Mr. Gonzales has worked as a sub for over 15 years at Douglas High School since his retirement.

ADVERTISEMENT

Located in the Douglas County School District, the high school has operated out of several different buildings throughout the decades. However, following another move in 1975, the institution has been based near Minden’s Highway 88 for more than 40 years. Then, in 2014 the school’s home underwent some construction work, with a new building being added to the grounds.

ADVERTISEMENT

Regardless of all the recent changes, though, Mr. Gonzales has remained a constant at Douglas High School, becoming one of the institution’s fixtures. As a result, in 2015, his students wanted to show their appreciation for his hard work. So, they put together an elaborate plan.

ADVERTISEMENT

However, the student body weren’t alone in devising their surprise for the veteran substitute teacher. Indeed, they collaborated with an intriguing clothing brand named Dude. be nice. Outside of the apparel, the company also looked to push messages of positivity through ambitious video projects.

ADVERTISEMENT

Based in Whittier, California, Dude. be nice was first established back in August 2014 by Brent Camalich. The founder had previous experience working for companies such as Clear Channel, T-Mobile and Lunchbox before branching out on his own. With that in mind, Camalich gave some insight into the creation of the brand and its video projects.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I started my career in journalism, and I remember the moment I decided it wasn’t the career for me,” Camalich wrote on crowdfunding website Indiegogo. “Our news director walked [into] the newsroom, [as] excited as a kid about to eat his first slice of cake and asked, ‘What do we got today guys? Car crash? Anybody die?’”

ADVERTISEMENT

“We were hoping and searching for tragedy to ensure the best ratings,” Camalich continued. “I asked myself, ‘Do I want to live to tell these types of stories, or live to tell encouraging ones?’ The Dude. be nice Project is committed to working with young people to create positive stories that are shareable across social media.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The company’s founder then talked about the power of positivity and how it shaped the video projects. “Everyone is trying to figure out how to be happy,” Camalich wrote. “We know through recent studies in positive psychology by top universities that one of the keys to a person’s own happiness is constantly seeking opportunities to make someone else smile and feel appreciated.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“The Dude. be nice Project is a platform to get young people hooked on this ‘helper’s high,’” Camalich added. “And of course make recipients feel appreciated.” However, when it came to working with the students from Douglas High School, that latter point took priority.

ADVERTISEMENT

Alongside a camera crew, Camalich arrived at the high school in April 2015, ready to capture Mr. Gonzales’ special surprise. The video begins with two senior students explaining why their substitute teacher deserves to be celebrated, as they touch upon his routine.

ADVERTISEMENT

“[Mr. Gonzales] is just awesome,” student Emily tells the camera. “He retired 15-plus years ago, and he chooses to spend everyday with us. He’s here, as a substitute, almost five days a week.” From there, the video cuts to a shot of the beloved teacher in action during one of his classes, with the students fully engaged.

ADVERTISEMENT

To keep the surprise under wraps, Camalich then reveals the cover that he and his crew are using. According to him, Mr. Gonzales believes that they’re there to teach the students how to conduct interviews. As such, the Dude. be nice founder then uses that story to secure an interview with the substitute.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I love [the students], they are my life,” Mr. Gonzales tells Camalich. “I’m like their grandfather, or great-grandfather. My wife says I do a lot of talking, but I want to let them know how terrific they are and that’s it!” At that point, the video cuts to another senior student, who reveals a bit more about the veteran teacher.

ADVERTISEMENT

“[Mr. Gonzales] is the type of guy that you only have to meet him once, but he’ll connect to you on a personal level,” student Ross tells the camera. “He’ll treat you as a human being that he cares about. And oftentimes his focus in the classroom is more on how you’re doing, and I just really appreciate that.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The video then cuts back to Camalich and a classroom full of students, as the former hails their decision to honor the substitute’s efforts. “We want to find genuinely good human beings,” he tells them. “And [Mr. Gonzales], more than anybody, deserves just a little appreciation, mostly because he’s not asking for it.”

ADVERTISEMENT

As Camalich continues to hail the student body’s work, the video then transitions to a shot of a sign that reads, “We Love You, Mr. Gonzales.” With the teenagers still gathered around, the brand founder adds, “What you guys are doing for him is extremely special.”

ADVERTISEMENT

At that point, the video starts to reveal the plans that the students have for their teacher, with several more signs being put together. However, Emily then reveals the heartwarming centerpiece of the surprise, as she holds on to a bowl full of marbles.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We’re gonna give out these little marble things [to everybody],” Emily explains. “Everyone’s going to go up and drop their marble into the jar, as a representation of all the lives that [Mr. Gonzales] has impacted.” From there, the student then touches upon the choice of colors for the marbles and her reasoning behind it.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We have [the marbles] in red, white and blue,” Emily continues. “Because Mr. Gonzales is super patriotic.” Indeed, the substitute teacher confirms that he’s “a fanatical American” when talking to Camalich, with his students then providing an example of that.

ADVERTISEMENT

According to Emily, Mr. Gonzales recited the pledge of allegiance during class the previous day, as she imitates his actions. At that point, the video then cuts to a shot outside Douglas High School, with a number of students gathering around Camalich holding their signs.

ADVERTISEMENT

A small group then pour more praise on Mr. Gonzales when talking about him, as one girl emphasizes that he’s “THE substitute” at their school. From there, the camera cuts to some other shots of signs hailing the teacher, before another senior student shares her thoughts.

ADVERTISEMENT

“[Mr. Gonzales] really cares about you, no matter who you are,” student Katie tells the camera. “He’ll learn your name and he’ll know it six years later!” On that note, the beloved sub then had some kind words of his own for the school’s student body, as he continues to talk to Camalich.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Their smiles give them away,” Mr. Gonzales says. “They don’t even know how wonderful they are. I honestly and truly believe that each one is very special. And each one has a tremendous gift.” At that point, the video then cuts to a shot of Camalich walking down a hallway, revealing that the surprise is ready.

ADVERTISEMENT

With a large gathering of students waiting outside the school, holding on to their signs and balloons, Camalich heads off to find the substitute teacher. After shaking his hand, he then leads Mr. Gonzales to the front doors. A few moments later, the educator is showered with cheers from the grateful teenagers.

ADVERTISEMENT

As the veteran teacher greets the crowd with hugs and handshakes, Emily grabs a microphone. “We had the opportunity to interview Mr. Gonzales,” she then tells the gathering. “We already knew he was super-wonderful, but it really brought to light his selflessness and his unconditional love for the people around him.”

ADVERTISEMENT

From there, the camera then cuts to a montage of the students dropping their marbles into the jar, greeting Mr. Gonzales as they do it. A group then perform the national anthem, before the video ends with one last message from the substitute. “If you want any change in this world, you gotta do it, and that’s all there is to it,” he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

The video was subsequently uploaded on the Dude. be nice YouTube channel in April 2015. Since then, it’s earned close to 800,000 views and over 12,000 likes, with online users responding to the students’ touching surprise. Meanwhile, the post also generated more than 350 comments, all hailing Mr. Gonzales’ job as a substitute.

ADVERTISEMENT

Of the 48 posts on the Dude. be nice channel, Mr. Gonzales’ story is certainly one of the most popular, just behind two other videos in the viewer count. That in itself is a testament to both him and his high school, as the tale truly resonated across the internet.

ADVERTISEMENT

As for Camalich, he continued to produce videos with the Dude. be nice Project, posting as recently as October 2018. Although each video might share a similar tone, they all celebrate different individuals who are deserving of praise in their community.

ADVERTISEMENT

Meanwhile, the appreciation that came Mr. Gonzales’ way in 2015 reflected the previous wishes of Randy Jurado Ertll. The veteran substitute teacher was indeed given the respect he deserved after 15 years of hard work. As Ertll said at the end of his Huffington Post blog, “That’s an important lesson for our students to learn.”

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT