A Stepping Stone to Teaching

Manchester, Conn. – (December 3, 2009) . . . Alison O’Keefe wanted to become a full-time high school teacher, but wasn’t able to find a job immediately following graduation from Eastern Connecticut State University in May 2009. O’Keefe, of Wethersfield, decided to become a substitute teacher as a stepping stone into teaching. “I eventually want to become a [full-time] teacher, but in the meantime, substitute teaching is my way to get in the door.”
MCC Evening of Fine Wines
Pictured from left to right: Martha Marteney,
Sharon LaPrad and Alison O’Keefe are students
in the Substitute Teacher Express
Preparation (STEP) program.

O’Keefe and 15 other aspiring substitute teachers were part of the first class of students registered in the Substitute Teacher Express Preparation (STEP) program developed by Manchester Community College. STEP is a training program that provides extensive information and resources, along with in-classroom practice, for individuals interested in becoming substitute teachers.

Research shows that by the time a student graduates from high school, he or she will have spent more than a full year with a substitute teacher. Nationwide, the number of schools reporting that they used substitutes to fill regular teaching vacancies doubled between 1994 and 2004, according to Department of Education data, and fewer than one in four school districts provide training for substitute teachers, according to the Substitute Teaching Institute at Utah State University.

“Before I registered for the course, I questioned what it really takes to become a substitute teacher,” stated Sharon LaPrad, of South Windsor. LaPrad, a retired state employee, is not sure if she wants to teach full-time but was interested in staying busy after retirement and thought about substitute teaching. “Through this course, I learned that being a substitute is more than just filling-in for a teacher. You must be able to manage the classroom and keep students engaged. The course gives you practical examples on how you can gain better control of the students in the classroom.”

The STEP program is divided into two parts. The first part includes nine hours of classroom instruction by Bruce Sievers, former principal of Howell Cheney Technical High School in Manchester. The second part consists of providing aspiring substitute teachers the opportunity to assess which grade levels are a good fit for their skill set, and then matching them with a classroom teacher as part of an internship, followed by individual coaching. The students completed part one of the program, and are currently being placed with various school districts as part of the second half of the course. “We are working with CREC to place students in six to eight school districts that have partnered with the program to provide internships,” stated Sievers. “We have received great support from school districts, which highlights the need for trained substitute teachers in the classroom.”

In the near future, the STEP program will include a nine-hour class to focus on special education and working with children with special needs in the classroom. “This part of the course would be suited for not only substitutes but for full-time teachers that are interested in brushing up their skills in working with this student population,” said Sievers.

“I have been thinking about teaching for a couple of years and the STEP program was very helpful for me to understand how to prepare and be comfortable in the classroom,” stated Martha Marteney, of Manchester. “The course provided valuable resources and easy tools on how to keep the class productive.”

To be eligible for the STEP program, students must have a college degree or be in their last semester of college before graduation. Students that successfully complete the program will receive a STEP certification, giving them an edge when they apply for substitute teaching positions. The next session will begin Thursday, December 17.

For more information about the STEP program, contact Miquel Pigott at (860) 512-2815, or email mpigott@mcc.commnet.edu.

Students of any age who possess the desire to pursue higher education are welcome at Manchester Community College. MCC is proud of its academic excellence, new facilities, flexible schedules, small classes, low tuition and faculty with both academic and “real world” credentials. The College offers over 60 programs, transfer options, financial aid and scholarships, as well as access to baccalaureate degrees through guaranteed admissions programs with several universities. MCC is situated on a park-like campus and is easily accessible from I-84.

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News Item Posted On: December 03, 2009
For Additional Information Contact: Endia DeCordova-Murphy at (860) 512-2914