Woodstock School District 200 recently received a grant that will help bridge the gap between people who want to teach but lack the certification with teaching jobs that are difficult to fill because of specific requirements.
Through a collaboration with Aurora University, District 200 is launching a teacher residency program for individuals who have bachelor’s degrees in subjects other than education and do not have an Illinois Professional Educator License.
Keely Krueger, District 200 assistant superintendent for early childhood and elementary education, wrote the grant in response to a McHenry County and statewide shortage of teachers who have bilingual education credentials.
Last year, there were 118 bilingual education openings across Illinois.
About one-third of District 200 students participate in the dual language program, and similar programs are growing in popularity at surrounding school districts.
Bilingual education and special education are two of the areas with the greatest need for teachers throughout the state.
District 200 received $50,000 and will receive $200,000 next year from the Illinois State Board of Education to fund the program, in which candidates will be paired with a mentor teacher during the school year while they take their teaching license coursework during the evenings.
The resident trainees will receive a stipend and financial aid for their tuition.
“This is a way to expedite the process of getting their teacher’s license, as well as allowing them to get teaching experience with a mentor for a full school year,” Krueger said. “It’s job-embedded professional development. Things they’re learning in college will be reinforced as they’re learning in their mentor classrooms.”
Residents will be placed in one of District 200’s six elementary schools and receive their teaching license with an endorsement in elementary education upon successful completion of the program. The 15-month program will begin in June 2020.
Krueger said people who successfully complete the program will get priority consideration for full-time teaching positions in the district.
Two informational sessions are scheduled for later this month. The first will be from
4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Olson Elementary School, 720 W. Judd St., and the second will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 28 at Aurora University Woodstock Center, 222 E. Church St.
“We want people to learn more about this opportunity,” Krueger said. “Bring your college transcripts when you come.”