Aspiring teachers taking advantage of non-traditional Vt. licensure programs

Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 5:01 PM EST
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont school districts are scouring for teachers after a years-long shortage has gotten worse during the pandemic. But as some leave the profession, other aspiring teachers are taking advantage of non-traditional routes to getting their licenses.

“I just thought I had a lot more to offer,” said Geoff Glaspie, who teaches math and computer programming at Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburg. He went to school for engineering and had a varied career, including 20 years in plastics manufacturing. But in his early 50s, he says he realized teaching was his calling. “I said, you know, I like my job, but when I think about what I really like about my job, it’s when I’ve had the opportunity to kind of coach or teach people,” Glaspie said.

He went through the Teacher Apprenticeship Program in the fall of 2019. Ellen Emery, the program’s director, says the average age of candidates is about 33, but some older folks are also looking for a change of pace. “For their last 10 years, they just want to do something with kids and give back and impact their community in positive ways,” she said.

The program is an accelerated route to teacher licensure in Vermont, accepting candidates with a bachelor’s degree in an area they want to teach. During COVID, there were 30 candidates, but this year the program is averaging about 40.

“A lot of our candidates currently have already been hired on in their district or are already going to fill some long-term sub jobs,” Emery said.

Another program is the Career & Technical Teacher Education Program, which is directed by Stephannie Peters. “In the last year, we’ve seen an almost 50% increase in the program,” Peters said.

The program is currently preparing 60 new teachers entering a career in tech ed, which includes cosmetology, culinary arts, human services, building trades, and auto. In most cases, the school district pays for the professional development.

“The Agency of Education does require a minimum amount of time having worked in the profession, so that is really important that they have that. Vermont values people’s field experiences as well as their preparation as an educator,” Peters said.

As for those enrolling in TAP, the Vermont Student Assistance Corp. offers loans and grants and the Vermont Department of Labor has financed candidates.

“If somebody wanted to become a teacher, I would not hesitate for a minute,” Glaspie said.

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