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More than 400 people already signed up for Missouri’s new online substitute teacher certification program

Published: Sep. 7, 2020 at 7:01 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The need for substitute teachers in Missouri is still high. The state launched a new online certification program last week that could help solve that problem.

Before, you needed 60 college credit hours to apply to be a substitute teacher. Now, anyone 21 and older can participate in a 20 hour online course instead.

”‘Really I could do this?’ I was so excited. I just didn’t know it was a possibility,” said Paula O’Donnell.

O’Donnell said working with kids has always been her passion.

”I have always loved schools and learning and a couple of my teacher friends said ’you’d be a great substitute teacher.” she said.

O’Donnell is now one of more than 400 taking the new online substitute teacher certification course that the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) launched September 2.

”Some of it is like a power point and then you have people talking about things more in depth, and then every-so-often they’ll ask you questions to make sure you understood you know what you were learning,” O’Donell said.

She is working for PENMAC, a staffing agency that works with districts like Springfield Public Schools to provide substitute teachers.

Steven Sparkman, the company’s Springfield branch manager said they’re doing everything they can to make this program more accessible.

“PEMMAC is going to reimburse anyone for the cost of the course, so once they work so many days, PENMAC will reimburse them for that so we try to not add any initial expenses for substitutes,“ he said.

Mallory McGowin with DESE said affordability was a big component in creating the online alternative.

”How many people have access to, and could afford 60 credit hours?” McGowin said. “This is a great option that provides people an additional opportunity to help our schools and find a really meaningful employment.”

Since the new program was approved in late August, Sparkman said the company had already started developing a waiting list.

”Even around the Springfield area, some of our schools around Lebanon, Waynesville,” he said.

Sparkman said the online program is temporary. The state will review it in November and decide whether or not it will continue.

Copyright 2020 KY3. All rights reserved.

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