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Workshops for county school substitutes to begin Jan. 17

COVINGTON - Even though the Newton County School System already employees about 400 substitute teachers, it is looking for more.

The Human Resources department at NCSS will hold at least three substitute teacher workshops beginning this month.

"We are basically looking for someone with at least a high school diploma or, in some cases, a GED," said Donald Dunnigan, associate superintendent for Human Resources at NCSS. "We aren't like neighboring school systems looking for at least two years of college."

He said the school system probably would require that next year, but those already working as substitutes in the system would be grandfathered into the system.

The half-day workshops for this school semester are scheduled for 9 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. Jan. 17, Feb. 28 and March 19 at the Newton County Board of Education.

"We generally schedule between three and four (sessions) each fall and winter," Dunnigan said. "We won't schedule anymore unless we see a need."

He said once the session starts at 9 a.m., no one can enter late.

Those interested in being a substitute teacher in any public school in Newton County must attend one of these sessions, as well as complete an application packed and submit a $25 money order for a criminal background check.

"Only applicants who have a clear background check and a completed application package will be permitted to attend the substitute workshop," Dunnigan said. "The background check must be done first."

At the workshop, Mary Jessie, a consultant for the Griffin Regional Education Service Agency, will advise trainees on classroom management, instructional strategies and activities for before and after school, according to a statement released by NCSS.

"When our regular teachers can't be in the class, it's our goal to have highly trained substitutes available. We want them to be well trained and familiar with classroom procedures," Dunnigan said in the statement. "When the participants leave, they will know how a substitute teacher should perform and behave. We want to give them all the necessary tools to use when they are called on to be a substitute teacher in Newton County."

After the workshop, the applicants also must complete one day of classroom observation at a Newton County public school before they are placed on an approved substitute teacher roster.

"We want them to understand and to know what goes on in the classroom," Dunnigan said. "It's not an easy job, and we want them to be prepared before they enter the classroom as one of our substitute teachers."

After they attend an observation day, applicants are required to get the form signed by the school and return it to the school system in order to be put on the approved list.

"Only persons holding current or expired professional teacher certification in any state are exempt from the workshop and the one-day classroom observation," according to the statement released by NCSS.

Dunnigan said each workshop session is limited to 40 individuals, but sometimes not everyone shows up, so it won't be full. He recommends those interested in attending any of the workshops, but especially the January workshop, to get an application from NCSS as soon as possible.

"It's really on a first-come, first-serve basis; once (the sessions) fill up, we won't have anymore space," Dunnigan said. "The ones we had in the fall did fill up."

Substitute teachers in Newton County are paid between $55 and $65 per day, depending on their level of education.

Dunnigan said applicants can list that they want to teach at all schools or a specific school or grade level.

Those preferences are put into the Subfinder system, which calls substitute teachers as needed.

"Most of the time when people sign up, they have an idea as to what grade level they want to be in and what schools," Dunnigan said. "If you limit yourself to one or two schools, those people call us and say, 'I don't ever get any calls.' If you put 'any and all schools,' you're going to eventually get calls."

Interested applicants are suggested to visit the NCSS Web site, www.newtoncountyschools.org, or call the NCSS Department of Human Resources at 770-784-4904. The Newton County Board of Education building is located at 2109 Newton Drive N.E. in Covington.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.