Nearby universities help Marion County Schools fill staff vacancies

FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Marion County Schools are using programs from Fairmont State University and WVU to deal with staffing shortages.

Teacher shortages are estimated to be near 2,000 statewide.  Marion County School Superintendent Donna Hage said they are using student teachers from Fairmont State University and counselors from WVU.

Donna Hage (File)

“About half of our 23 vacancies were in Special Education as well as English/Language Arts and school counselors,” Hage said.

Hage said students in the program are nearing graduation when they begin their assignments and are ready to begin more professional development. She added the universities have been great partners in providing competent people to work with their students.

“It’s win-win because we hope to get them during that student teaching experience,” Hage said. “They are working toward their teaching credentials, so we’re not lowering standards.”

JoDee Decker, field and placement coordinator at the WVU School of Education, said the policy and standards are clearly defined in West Virginia Department of Education Policy 5100. The policy also includes assessment guidelines that are used as the student teacher progresses.

“Perspective Certified Teachers of Record (CTR) have to have completed all their content preparation courses with a minimum GPA of 3.0 in the area of their specialization to be considered,” Decker said. “They also have to have proficiency scores in their State Competency exams and all of their professional skills exams.”

JoDee Decker

Decker said the induction phase of bringing in a student teacher is possibly the most important. Giving student teachers a firm foundation with students, other teachers and the environment is the job of mentors that are provided by each school district.

“They have been really good about providing strong mentors, so the CTR feel comfortable, they know what to expect in the building,” Decker said. “By doing that they feel welcome and it makes them want to stay.”

For Hage, it’s an opportunity to improve staff continuity which benefits the district and students.

“We hope to build a relationship with them,” Hage said. “With the shortage of teachers across the nation it’s our hope we can start that relationship early and they’ll stay with us.”

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