Prospective teachers can be hired as substitutes

Category:  News
Friday, October 11th, 2019 at 11:14 AM

Edinboro University senior Matthew Wilson is currently in a five-year program to earn his Bachelor of Science in mathematics with a secondary education certificate. Although he had volunteered in schools as a tutor and will go through student teaching, Wilson can now gain early experience (and cash) in the classrooms as a substitute teacher.

With the passage of Act 86 of 2016, prospective educators can be hired by a school district as a substitute teacher.

“In my experience over the last year as a substitute teacher for the General McLane School District, this particular job is rife with positive aspects,” said Wilson. “It has provided me with the opportunity of networking, an essential feature for an aspiring educator, as well as experience. In addition to the professional benefits, the occupation itself is efficacious. It is financially pragmatic, especially for myself, since I am currently still attending college in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree.”

For many districts across Pennsylvania, this is one of the utilized programs to help alleviate a teacher shortage.

“For students, this legislation provides paid, hands-on experience for students who want to enter the field and gives them more experience networking within schools. For districts, it helps alleviate a shortage of substitute teachers. It’s a win-win situation,” said General McLane School District Superintendent Richard Scaletta.

General McLane schools are having trouble filling substitute teaching positions, leaving unfilled positions daily.

There has actually been a decline in available substitute teachers in the district for the last few years, coinciding with the national shortage.
“Substitutes play a vital role in empowering all General McLane students by making sure that education doesn’t stop for our students when classroom teachers are away,” Scaletta said.

General McLane pays substitute teachers $84 a day, $41 for a half day, and an additional $5 a day after working 45 days. The district also offers substitutes some additional perks, including admission to events, opportunities to earn Act 48 hours and lunch on Fridays.

There are about 2,100 students in the district, which uses an average of about 12 substitute teachers per day, and sometimes up to 20 when there is a larger professional development event occurring. The district has a list of about 34 certified substitutes and about 30 non-certified substitutes through the Northwest Tri-County Unit #5 every day to help fill the need.

Certified substitutes go through the district to get on the list.

However, individuals without a teaching certificate can still substitute through the Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unit’s Substitute Consortium. Through this program, the Intermediate Unit provides online training to employees. These substitutes must have a bachelor’s degree, but it can be in any discipline.

Prospective teachers may also substitute in the district. An eligible education major currently enrolled in a Pennsylvania college or university teacher preparation program, which is regionally accredited and approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and who has completed 60 semester hours or the equivalent at an accredited state college or university, may also substitute in the schools.

“My experience in the schools within the General McLane School District has been overwhelmingly positive,” Wilson said. “The attending teachers are very polite and engaging, which is exceptionally helpful for the substitute teacher. Moreover, the lesson plans left by the teachers are consistently detailed and the students are prepared for their schoolwork. I am tremendously grateful to have this opportunity for occupational and professional growth.”

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