35% of Bay District School applicants don’t have teaching degrees, opt for non-traditional path

Published: Jul. 12, 2022 at 8:32 PM CDT
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - As teacher shortages around the nation continue, the effects can also be felt in Bay County. That’s why Bay District Schools is continuing to opt for a non-traditional way of teaching to keep the classrooms filled.

District Director Of Communications Sharon Michalik said 35% of applicants in the district don’t have traditional education degrees from college. These educators have what’s called alternative certifications, and are called “alt-certs.”

“So I think there’s some confusion with parents that if a person doesn’t have a teaching degree, therefore they don’t have the experience they need to be a teacher, but a great example would be a couple of retired Navy divers that we hired not long ago.” said Michalik. “They were high school math teachers and they were amazing. They totally had the content knowledge, but from real-world experience so they were able to infuse that into their lessons and talk to students about the real-world application of figuring out how you’re not going to get the bends coming up from a deep dive. That’s all math.”

Michalik said if you have a bachelor’s degree in any subject and you want to become a teacher, then you take the subject area exams. Once you take this exam, alt-certs get temporary certificates. The state then gives you three years to do job-embedded professional development working with traditional teachers as mentors. Then you can convert your temporary certificate into a professional certificate. Michalik said this is what a teacher who took the traditional path has.

“It is amazing for us to be able to bring these content experts into the classroom,” said Michalik. “Again, their experience in the “real-world” really enriches the experience for students and for colleagues. That doesn’t take anyway anything from the amazing people who have gone the traditional route and that’s great. They have so much information to share, but when we’re able to bring in people who have also done these jobs in the real world and let them also share those experiences with the students, everyone benefits from that.”

Michalik said 35% is an increase from previous years. Compare this to ten years ago, when she said about 5% of district applicants were alt-certs.

If you’re thinking about becoming an alt-cert for Bay District Schools, visit their job fair next Thursday at the Nelson Building from 9 A.M. to noon.

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