To address the shortage of substitute teachers in Wyoming’s K-12 schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Wyoming is encouraging its students to fill that role during the break between UW’s fall and spring semesters.
Students in UW’s College of Education this week received a letter from Gov. Mark Gordon and Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow asking the students who are certified as substitute teachers – several hundred upperclassmen are in that category – to consider serving their local K-12 school districts in this capacity. Additionally, UW encourages all of its students who have at least 60 hours of college credit – the minimum required to be a substitute teacher – to pursue certification from Wyoming’s Professional Teaching Standards Board.
UW students who serve as substitute teachers are eligible for a service credit from the university, in addition to the wages paid by local school districts.
“We have, in Wyoming, determined that providing the opportunity for our K-12 schools to educate both in person and virtually is a priority. (But) our school districts are struggling to staff their schools due to teacher/staff shortages caused by illness and exposure,” Governor Gordon and Superintendent Balow wrote in their letter to UW students. “Teachers, paraprofessionals and school administrators are all pitching in to cover classes, but the current situation is not sustainable... If you are able to serve our communities and our students by substitute teaching, please consider doing so.”
UW President Ed Seidel says substitute teaching in Wyoming’s K-12 schools is another very meaningful way that UW students can contribute to their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our students have stepped up in many capacities amid the pandemic, including creating personal protective equipment for health care providers, volunteering in clinical settings and reaching out to the elderly and isolated,” Seidel says. “Serving as substitute teachers will help make it possible for K-12 schools to keep operating, allowing Wyoming’s young people to continue learning in-person and helping families across the state.”
UW College of Education Interim Dean Leslie Rush notes that serving as a substitute teacher is a good way for a student to gain practical experience in the classroom – similar to student teaching – but is also a way to earn money during the break during much of December and January, unlike student teaching, which does not bring monetary compensation.
“We hope many of our students in the College of Education, as well as those in other fields of study, will take advantage of this opportunity,” Rush says. “Students can fill a critical need in the state while gaining a great deal individually from the experience.”
UW students are encouraged to reach out to their local school districts to pursue student teaching opportunities. Contact information for the districts may be found at https://edu.wyoming.gov/resources/school-links/. The Professional Teaching Standards Board may be reached by phone at (307) 777-7291 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.