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Teacher certification program approved

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By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – The Woodville ISD Board of Trustees on Monday approved a pathway to alternative teacher certification for the district, which will, ideally, save the district money in the long run.

Jason Hicks, who serves as the district’s director of staff support services, gave a presentation about the program titled the Academy to Certify Teachers, which will allow employees of the district who wish to become certified teachers the opportunity to do so, locally.

WISD’s status as a District of Innovation allows for it to host such a program.

Hicks said that two years ago when he was put in charge of addressing alternative certification programs for prospective teachers, there were 12 people within WISD looking to get their certification and now there are 26 uncertified teachers in the district. He said the trend has been similar across the state.

Hicks further stated that recent statistics show a shortage of 150,000 teachers, nationally, and 10,000 in Texas, with that shortage projected to increase within a five-year span by almost double.

“We have to come up with a way to combat this,” Hicks said, and called the statistics on the shortage of educators “staggering.”

The program includes pathways to get paraprofessionals, instructional aides and substitutes certified within three years, and, according to Hicks, a pathway toward a debt-free bachelor’s degree.

The accredited university hosting the program is Indiana Wesleyan, Hicks said, which is a fully accredited brick and mortar institution and not an online “cyber-school,” he said.

The program also allows for degreed candidates to obtain certifcation. In order to participate, the candidates need to complete the program, otherwise, they will have to pay the money back, Hicks said.

Those who go through the program will also be required to sign a contract to work for three years in WISD.

Hicks said the program is set up to accomodate 10 participants in the first round, which will save the district $35K in tuition monies from how alternative certification is currently done.

The program will offer 12 hours of credit for $1,000, paid for by WISD, and the district is able to facilitate the professional development aspects of the certification program.

The affordability, Hicks said, would make the program attractive to local hopefuls.

Hicks, who formerly served as a football coach, compared the program and WISD’s success to successful football programs in the region, like Newton, West Orange-Stark and with the growths experienced by WISD’s football program, as well.

“You start with a simple playbook...and you move it up...the next thing you know, the success is there, because of consistency,” Hicks said.

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