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.