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If you yearn to be a teacher, here are a few ways to start

June 10, 2005

The Washington County Board of Education on Tuesday voted to import 10 international teachers to fill positions in local schools.

The move, which brings the teachers here for three-year terms, is necessary because of a teacher shortage, according to Deputy Superintendent Patricia Abernethy. The alternative would be staffing classrooms with long-term substitutes, she said.

Why aren't there enough homegrown teachers? It may be because would-be educators don't know that they need not major in education in college to get into the classroom.

They do need to take a Praxis test, which they can make arrangements to do by visiting the Educational Testing Service Web site at www.ets.org/praxis. The test covers basic reading, writing and mathematics.

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Teacher candidates then need to come to the school system, where the human resources department will do a "credit count," assessing how many courses the person needs to take and in what areas.

Depending on what is needed, the teacher can be provisionally certified and given four years to complete the needed courses.

A second possibility is to take Frostburg State University's Master of Arts in Education program, which takes a year to complete.

In either case, new teachers have support systems to ensure that students get the best possible instruction.

Teachers go through a New Teacher Academy, which provides them with a variety of things, including two months of lesson plans and tips on how to implement them.

Every new teacher is assigned a mentor and also works with a student achievement specialist, who, among other things, helps develop more effective teaching methods.

New teachers also can visit experienced teachers' classrooms to observe their techniques.

System officials did offer one cautionary note: It's helpful if you have experience in working with children in Scouting or other youth groups. If you're changing careers, they say, the classroom isn't like the office you're leaving behind.

If you're interested, call Ellen Hayes, the supervisor of human resources for teaching staffing at 301-766-2804.

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