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After a recent training session, Hillsdale College stu­dents will now be able to work as sub­stitute teachers in the Hillsdale Inter­me­diate School Dis­trict. Pexels

A training program recently hosted by Hillsdale College means that around 40 new sub­stitute teachers will soon be in Hillsdale County.

The Hillsdale County Inter­me­diate School Dis­trict, the Hillsdale College Edu­cation Department, and Career Ser­vices teamed to host a sub­stitute teacher training program aimed at fast-tracking stu­dents into sub­stitute teaching posi­tions. The one-day program was free to stu­dents and paid for them to get a permit to sub­stitute teach in Hillsdale County.

“There were several reasons for cre­ating this program,” said Director of Career Ser­vices Joanna Wiseley in an email. “It pro­vides some local employment oppor­tu­nities for stu­dents with at least 60 credit hours, on their own schedule.”

It also lets stu­dents gain teaching expe­rience, as well as helps local school systems.

“There is a shortage of sub­stitute teachers not only in Hillsdale County, but the entire state,” Wiseley said.

The program came about when Jonathan Tobar, the director of instruc­tional service for the Hillsdale County Inter­me­diate School Dis­trict, realized teachers were unable to come to other training pro­grams because they could not find sub­stitute teachers to cover for them.

“I instantly realized that this was a pain point for our dis­tricts,” Tobar said. Tobar then began arranging to create a program that allowed stu­dents from the college to get their sub­stitute teaching permit. The day-long program included training on classroom man­agement, lesson plans, and unex­pected tips for sub­stitute teachers.

While the process to become a sub­stitute teacher is nor­mally lengthy, Tobar aimed to streamline the process so stu­dents could obtain the permit as quickly as pos­sible. This included con­densing the course to one day and bringing in people to take fin­ger­prints — two things that can trip up inter­ested stu­dents. Local school dis­tricts in Hillsdale County donated money to help pay for the course, meaning that it was offered free to stu­dents — bypassing another barrier.

The program grad­uated around 40 people, most of whom are in the final stages of receiving their permits.

Sophomore Car­oline Walker will be teaching for the first time on Thursday, Jan. 24. Walker will be sub­sti­tuting at Hillsdale Middle School as a para­pro­fes­sional working with stu­dents with dis­abil­ities.

“It’s a little intim­i­dating,” Walker said. “I’m really excited to learn classroom man­agement and to grow in the dif­ferent areas teaching requires of you.”

She said one tip she found helpful was to shake hands or fist bump stu­dents as they came in the door in order to gauge their emo­tions.

“You can know who you have to keep an eye on,” Walker said.

Tobar said this is a program they are likely to run again.

“It gives stu­dents flex­i­bility to earn some money while doing some­thing for the greater good,” Tobar said.