Ozarks Technical Community College class doubles as substitute teacher training
Ozarks Technical Community College is taking an extra step to help alleviate the critical shortage of substitute teachers.
The "Orientation to the Teaching Profession" course at OTC — often taken by students exploring the career option — has been approved as substitute teacher training by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Students who complete the introductory course for OTC's new teacher education degree will be eligible to apply to work as substitute teachers.
They'll be able to work part-time as substitute teachers while pursuing their education at OTC.
“When the college revamped its teaching degree, we wanted to give students that substitute teacher training during their first semester so they could work in the classroom while completing their degree,” said Angie Miller, department chair for teacher education, in a Tuesday news release.
“With this approval, anyone in the state could take this course and then apply with DESE to become a substitute teacher.”
Finding and keeping enough substitute teachers has long been a challenge in Missouri and the shortage was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. High absentee rates for ill and quarantined teachers and staff, coupled with a lack of substitutes, forced schools to shut down at times.
For years, Missouri substitute teachers were required to complete at least 60 hours of college credit plus go through the application process.
The state Board of Education changed the qualifications last year. Eligible substitutes can either complete 60 hours of college credit or have a high school diploma and go through specialized substitute training.
The "orientation" course at OTC, which can be complete in a online or hybrid format, will satisfy that training requirement.
The college's new Associate of Arts in Teacher Education degree is designed for those who want to transfer to a four-year institution to complete a bachelor's degree and then become a teacher.
The degree requires 60 hours to graduate and can be taken entirely online. There are also minimal textbook costs.
OTC will offer $500 scholarships for 19 students pursuing the degree through a grant made possible by DESE. The Lincoln Legacy scholarships are named after the Lincoln School, a segregated school for Black children in Springfield, that is now an academic building on the college campus.
To find out more about the substitute teacher training, the degree program or the grant-funded scholarships, call 417-447-6604 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Claudette Riley is the education reporter for the News-Leader. Email news tips to email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Introductory OTC course doubles as substitute teacher training