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Schools open doors for prospective teachers
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The Effingham County School System is looking for professionals who want to become teachers.

The system is hosting an information session on alternative ways to become certified Feb. 26 from 6:30-7:30 p.m at the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce.

Effingham County Schools Human Resources Director Becky Long said the system will have a speaker who works with the Regional Educational Services Agency to talk about switching careers to education.

“The Professional Standards Commission has funded this initiative statewide to create interest and give people information,” Long said. “He will talk to us about some of the various ways how someone who already has a bachelor’s degree can get into the classroom.”

Long said the reason for the initiative is the expected shortage of teachers.

“We wanted to get people, business people, stay at home moms who are ready to reenter the workforce, give them some information and let them know what they can do if they’re interested in a career in education,” she said.

The Georgia Professional Standards Commission is the licensing agency for the state. Those interested in becoming licensed to teach can go to the Web site for more information.

“If somebody who has a degree in any field wants to go into a classroom, they have to have a 2.5 undergraduate GPA, pass a basic skills test and pass the content area test,” Long said. “Then if a school system agrees to hire me, they can request a non-renewable certificate, and I can go to the classroom, but I also will be taking classes at the college level.”

Long said both Armstrong Atlantic State University and Georgia Southern University have a program for a master of arts in teaching.

 “You can actually start the program even though you don’t have a degree in education, and when you complete the program, you come out with a master of arts in teaching.”

Long said most people who apply for a non renewable certificate are enrolled in the pro

“Now Armstrong has it in early childhood, middle grades and special ed general curriculum,” she said.

Long said people who use this method to become certified have five years to complete the master’s program before their certification expires.

There are other programs such as troops to teachers, which works with those coming out of the military into the classroom. She said there is also a similar program for military spouses.

Long said Effingham has been fortunate to not have as much of a problem with teacher shortages as some areas have had.

“Special education, I think in any school district, is a concern,” she said. “We have several special ed folks who went this route instead rather than going the traditional four years of college. Some of your high school subjects, math and science, are more of a challenge than others.”

The system also will be hosting a job fair in March at Marlow Elementary.

Long said last year was the first year the system had a job fair, which included bus drivers, food service workers and certified applicants, and more than 300 people were in attendance.

“We got a positive feedback from our principals,” Long said. “We’re expecting another good response this year.”

She said the job fair brought in a lot of people from many areas last year.

“Typically we hire at least 100 certified people (teachers and administrators),” Long said.

Long said the system is keeping track of what government officials in Atlanta are doing with the budget. Long said the system has to keep an eye on Atlanta because the “lion’s share of our budget” pays for staffing.

“That is a huge determinate of what we are able to do,” she said.

Long said it is important for prospective teachers to go into an area they like.

“I get calls from people who say, ‘I want to be a teacher,’” she said. “I say, ‘what grade level do you want to teach, or what content area,’ and they’ll say, ‘just any, I just want to get into the classroom.’ And my advice to them is pick something that you’re going to be passionate about.

“If you don’t like math, please don’t try to become math certified,” Long said. “Think about, ‘do I want to work with special ed children, do I want to work with elementary age children,’ is high school your niche, those kind of things than just saying you want to be a teacher because we want you to be with us for a long time. We don’t want you to get burned out.

“Go to an area and level that you’re passionate about,” she said. “That’s my soap box because we want them to teach, but we also want them to like what they’re doing.”

Long said the system has a mentoring program for first year teachers in place, and if the teachers are taking classes there is a teacher induction program. Long said the information session is the first the system has hosted, and as there is interest it could become an annual event for the system.

“Effingham County’s a great system to work in, and we hear that repeatedly from our teachers and from teachers in other counties,” she said. “They feel like they get a lot of administrative and community support.”

Registration for the information session on Feb. 26 is preferred and can be done online at