VSU helps reduce Georgia's teacher shortage - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

VSU helps reduce Georgia's teacher shortage

November 22, 2002

Valdosta - Maude Johnson works in personnel with Valdosta City Schools, and knows just how bad South Georgia needs teachers.

"The need for teachers is at a critical point in the state and if you are short just one teacher, that's a huge need," said Johnson.

But a 4.4 million dollar state grant and the "Destination Teaching: Customized Pathways to Get You There" program will help reduce Georgia's teacher shortage by transforming paraprofessionals into teachers.

"This grant gives us the opportunity to fund additional financial aid, transportation, childcare, and a variety of other charges a typical student would have," said Mary Ellen Dallman. "We're giving these people the support they need to fulfill their degrees."

The program consists of three phases. First, a 30-hour certificate program funded completely by the HOPE grant. Next, students will begin working on an associate degree, either at VSU or through joint programs with with ABAC, Waycross College, or South Georgia College. In the third and final stage, students can remain at one of these two-year colleges or VSU and complete a bachelor's degree in education.

"Most people who work in the paroproffessional field are working to support their families and in order to go back to school, they would have to forgo their income," said Dallman.

But with VSU's new program, para-professionals can receive complete financial aid and take classes at times best suited for them.

Johnson says local school systems are excited about the opportunities the program will provide.

"This program is extending a hand to those paroprofessionals and giving them a chance to further their education that they would not otherwise have, and that's a great thing," said Johnson.

VSU professors say the new program could supply hundreds of educators each year and put a huge dent in Georgia's teacher shortage.

posted at 2:45 by ashley.harper@walb.com

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