(Substitute) Teacher Feature: 1-2-3, it’s Mr. Lee

By Lloyd R. Bruner

John Lee is the a well-recognized substitute teacher in Lincoln Parish. He has been a classroom teacher, coach, administrator and substitute teacher over his 53-year career. Lee began teaching in 1969 in Webster Parish, moved to Claiborne Parish in 1974, and then took his talents to Lincoln Parish in 2000. He took off his full-time educator’s hat and began substitute teaching in 2007. Lee has now taught for over 53 years.

“There were several teachers who influenced my decision to become a teacher and made a lasting impact on me to become an educator,” Lee said.

Throughout his career, he primarily taught sixth grade students. Although he taught science, math and reading, he spent most of his career as a Homer Pelican, teaching language arts and P.E., and as an assistant football coach. Lee moved to Ruston in 2000 and continued his career at Bethel Christian School, teaching sixth grade students and serving as principal.

As a substitute teacher, Lee has taught Pre-K all the way to seniors. He worked over the years as a substitute teacher at Choudrant Elementary, Cypress Springs Elementary, Ruston Elementary, A.E. Phillips and Ruston Jr. High School. He spends many days substituting at Choudrant High School and Ruston High School.

As Lee walks into the classroom, the familiar “One, two, three – it’s Mr. Lee,” is echoed by many students and teachers alike, followed by Mr. Lee’s famous reply, “two, three, four – I am coming in the door.” He comes with a clipboard full of cartoons, color sheets and puzzles; Lee always brings extra fun and activities in the event they are needed and is always sure to provide entertainment along with his handouts. 

Lee says that most of the time, teachers have lesson plans prepared in advance. In those cases where they do not, teachers email them to him. With his clipboard in hand, he always seeks out the next opportunity to substitute. 

“I continue to enjoy working as an educator and plan to continue for a few more years,” Lee said.

Lee has received numerous honors over his career. These include Outstanding Young Educator at Stewart Elementary School in Minden (1972); Teacher of the Year at Homer Jr. High School (1994); and being recognized twice as Outstanding 4-H Adult Leader in Lincoln Parish (2003 and 2006). In 2016, Lee was inducted into the Louisiana 4-H Hall of Fame (one of only two ever inducted from Lincoln Parish).

Over the years, Lee can also be seen also gracing the theater at The Dixie in numerous roles. He left his interview in typical Mr. Lee style, quoting Porky Pig with “That’s All Folks!” or to be more up to date, quoting Bugs Bunny with his “And that’s the end.”

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