Teacher certification now easier for paraprofessionals
Georgia Southern University’s College of Education (COE) is offering paraprofessionals new ways to earn their teacher certification. The initiative recognizes the advantages and challenges unique to students currently working in schools and wanting to continue serving their school community. Starting in the fall of 2023, customized degree tracks (pending approval) will allow paraprofessionals to complete their education quickly without interfering with their school work schedule.
Alisa Leckie, Ph.D., Assistant Dean for Partnerships and Outreach, has been guiding COE efforts to serve paraprofessionals. She began by consulting with schools in the region, collecting input from HR directors and paraprofessionals at school districts in Bulloch, Liberty and Effingham Counties. In just those three counties, Leckie met over 100 paraprofessionals interested in teacher certification. She explains, “Paraprofessionals have chosen to work in schools with children. They’re highly qualified with a desire to work in the field, but, logistically, it’s been untenable for parapros to earn certification.”
As for HR directors, Leckie says they are eager for solutions to teacher shortages and understand the benefits of empowering a workforce that is already invested in their school community. These HR directors have agreed to provide support and field experience for employees participating in the COE program.
In addition to working with schools, Leckie collaborated with departments across the University to create the flexibility and support required to address the needs of paraprofessionals. For example, all paraprofessionals seeking teacher certification will have the same knowledgeable advisor, and those starting as freshmen can potentially begin graduate coursework in their senior year.
Recruitment events for paraprofessionals have been held in five school districts since the fall of 2022, and there are currently nearly 30 paraprofessionals enrolled in coursework this spring.
Leckie sees the initiative as a win-win-win for the paraprofessionals needing career advancement, the University needing to serve an increasingly non-traditional student base and school districts needing teachers. She says, “Hopefully this will serve everyone well. It’s time.”
Posted in Community Outreach & Partnership, Degree Programs