In a pre-COVID-19 world, finding substitute teachers for certain areas throughout West Virginia was critical but now with a pandemic on our hands, the issue has grown to not only the entire state but also the nation. Which is why the West Virginia Department of Education has designed a program to try and eliminate the deficit.

“There are critical substitute shortages in parts of the state without COVID,” said Dr. Carla Warren, director of the office of educator development and support for the state. “Of course COVID has exaggerated those substitute shortages during this time period, so this will help ease that burden for some of those systems.”

Warren said the state has been working with county systems and educator preparation programs at universities across the state to design a way for university students who are in their last year of school, and student teaching, to work as substitute teachers.

“Typically in the last semester of your senior year in education, you do student teaching,” said Jaclyn Edwards, a senior at University of Charleston and a now substitute teacher in Kanawha County schools. “(Usually for student teaching) you’re there everyday just like the teacher would be, you teach, you take over the classroom and you do that until you graduate. But I’ve just kind of skipped over that part and I’m doing this (program) in place of that.”
These are pre-service teachers who have completed everything but their clinical experience, they’ve had all the content and all their course work to prepare them they have just not had that clinical experience which is their final student teaching experience,” Warren told WSAZ.

Warren also called the program a win-win for both the state and educator preparation programs at universities. She said students who decide to participate will get credit towards their degree and can also receive pay.

“Those flexibilities will allow teachers to go and work as a day-to-day substitute or perhaps be placed in a long-term position or to work virtually or remotely and the benefit will be those teachers will still have support and still have structure from the educator prep program as well as the county system.”

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