Mr. Mason: The Past of the Most Beloved Substitute

There isn’t a student at Nashoba who doesn’t know the best substitute teacher on Earth, Mr. Mason, a unrivaled man who respects students and sets a tone within a classroom that other substitutes just cannot. A typical substitute at Nashoba acts as though they are a real teacher and sets rules and standards that are way too high for a teen to follow. “Sit straight, face the front, put your phones in a bucket, don’t talk…” these are all commands you might hear from substitutes at Nashoba; but not Mr. Mason.

Mr. Mason treats kids with a different kind of respect. He makes sure they do their work, but lets them talk and when necessary check their phones, and play games as long as they are respectful and quiet. He hardly even needs to create a “no phone” rule because all anyone wants to do is talk to him.

Everyone knows Mr. Mason, but they hardly know more than his name. He has worked at Nashoba for fifteen years and questions have arisen about his past.

In an interview, Mr. Mason was asked about what kinds of jobs he has held in the past: “I went to college to become a teacher, I’m a certified teacher and taught in Newburyport, MA as a full time teacher and then Proposition 2 1/2 [a program in the early 80’s that laid off many teachers, police officers, and firefighters]  came in many years ago and we all got laid off.” He went to college for teaching, so naturally he would end up back at that, right? Wrong.

 After a good chunk of the American population got laid off, the only hiring jobs were at the prison, so that’s where he headed. “I worked there for 20 years. It was very interesting. It’s not really what I planned on doing in life but that’s what I ended up with.” So how did this prison worker end up at Nashoba?  “I wanted to do something not full time and I wanted to get back into what I initially went for, which was teaching.”

 After some time being a substitute at Nashoba, they asked him to be a permanent sub, but unfortunately, it didn’t last very long. “About eight years ago when this school had their financial difficulties, they sent some teachers to different schools. They didn’t lay anyone off, but they sent them away. And they cut the two permanent sub positions, me and Mr. McCarter.” A few years later, he got the sub position back and that’s why he’s here almost everyday.

When asked why everyone thinks he’s the favorite substitute, he laughed and said, “Well, I don’t know if I’m the favorite substitute, but I treat the kids with respect and 99% of the time they give me the same respect back.”