A shortage of substitute teachers within the Oswego City School District has prompted the school district to begin working closely with the Oswego State School of Education to boost the student teacher pool of qualified personnel.
“Just yesterday I received this email that one building had five people out that they could not cover,” said Christine Walsh, education professor and Oswego State professional development school liaison.
The Oswego City School District is the only district in Oswego County that requires their substitutes to have a bachelor’s degree, district superintendent Dean Goewey said.
“The shortage of subs is particularly difficult for us because we have a higher standard for our subs,” Goewey said. “I’ve been brainstorming over the last year of ways to find solutions to increase our availability of subs.”
Goewey said he and the Board of Education decided the next course of action was for him to reach out to the school of education to begin recruitment. The school district is in search of junior and senior education majors to be screened, approved and put on the sub list.
Walsh said the two schools have a “pretty established partnership” and already have their students in the classroom.
“We have a SUNY Oswego classroom right at Leighton Elementary School now,” Walsh said. “We call it the Leighton Learning Community. “They basically gave us a classroom at no cost to us so that our childhood education majors could take their classes right in that building and then go to the classroom and do their practicum.”
The Leighton Learning Community allows teachers at the school to interact with Oswego State students, giving them hands-on experience with elementary-age children.
“It’s a clinically enriched learning environment where every teacher at Leighton is connected to pre-service teachers in blocks two, three and four of their development as teachers,” Goewey said. “Which is special education training and practicum, methods of instruction and practicum, right into student teaching.”
The plan to help restore the number of approved and qualified substitutes has begun. Because of this relationship and familiarity, Goewey said he thinks this should be quite easy.
Walsh said this was brought up on the first day of the semester to students and they recently were emailed with explicit instructions on how to apply. To aid in the application process and do more recruiting, Heidi Sweeney, the executive director of secondary education and personnel, will help students along the application process.
Walsh hopes to have some students cleared, trained and in the system for next semester.
This process will be a rolling application. Applicants would need to be fingerprinted, be background checked, fill out the necessary paperwork and be board-approved to be able to go on the job when their schedule permits.
The Oswego City School District will change their requirements once the program is established, Goewey said. Their new guidelines will accept those with a bachelor’s degree or a matriculated junior or senior in an education program within the SUNY system.
Some students are still in the dark in regard to this initiative but like the opportunity it brings.
“It sounds like a great initiative for prospective graduates,” said Abby West, a double major in adolescent education and English.“There’s nothing like hands-on experience to get a future teacher acquainted with a real-life classroom.”
The current times when approved subs could be in the classroom and making money right now are very limited, but according to Walsh, the School of Education is trying to design upcoming semesters to free up more availability during morning and afternoon hours so students can potentially fill in. This would entail moving class times to the evening so students could be available and not have class during Oswego City School District hours.
Photo: Alex Sevchuk | The Oswegonian