At the beginning of the year, I enrolled at Shepherd University for an MAT Degree, a Master’s in Teaching toward certification as a teacher. Through all of my short life as a short term and long-term substitute teacher, the one thing that concerned me most was stability. There is an unwritten rule (maybe it is written somewhere) that a certified teacher can always replace a sitting long-term substitute teacher.
Along with being registered to start the MAT Program at Shepherd, I also accepted a last minute LTS (long-term sub) job at Charles Town Middle School in Charles Town, WV. I had subbed at this school a couple of years earlier when I first started substitute teaching on a day-to-day basis. I got along real well with the Principal, Tim Sites. Even better, Tim bought my book “The Crooner and the Russian Mob” and liked it.
As I write this, I should be talking about how great the first 9 weeks went at CTMS and how my studies at Shepherd were going but in both cases NOT POSSIBLE.
A little back-story to understand the crazy decision I made less than 1 WEEK BEFORE CLASSES at Shepherd and CTMS….
Jefferson County Schools is one of the few counties in West Virginia that did NOT adopt an AltCert Program. The AltCert Program is an Alternative Certification program where working professionals with at least 1 year of substitute teaching can take the Praxis test and several online classes and get a Teaching Certification. The cost of this would be extremely minimal and far less than 2 years in a college program and $20,000 in college tuition fees which is what I was looking at for Shepherd this year. WV AltCert Program Info
There were many times I tried, in vain, to get the County Board of Education to allow me to be their first guinea pig but to no avail.
In the week, leading up to the start of classes, as I sat in a training room at Harper’s Ferry Middle School, I took at look at the job board for teaching jobs in West Virginia and a job popped out at me for English teachers at Berkeley Springs High School (BSHS) in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. I had heard that Morgan County offered the AltCert so I applied. Later that afternoon, the Principal of BSHS (Mitch Nida) called me and during our brief conversation he mentioned they had the AltCert program available in Morgan County. He then asked me to come in to meet him and his administrative staff. I visited with them the next morning, bright and early.
I made the 57 mile trek the following morning and met with the Principal and his Administrative leadership along with a representative from the Morgan County Board of Education (Russell Penner). It was a great school and a good group of people. The only reason I was considering jumping ship in Jefferson County was because of the AltCert Program.
IMPORTANT NOTE – I was TOLD in the meeting, and a follow up meeting with the head of HR at the Morgan County Board office (Jamie Harris), that if I was in the AltCert Program my Long-Term Substitute job would be SECURED. I told them, emphatically, that this would have to be the case in order for me to give up my higher paid position at CTMS. They assured me verbally that this WAS THE CASE. I was hired as a Long Term Substitute but as a Full-Time employee with ALL benefits, from Day 1. Normally LTSs don’t get benefits until their 30th day on the job. IT ALL SEEMED ON THE UP AND UP.
So, I signed on and the next morning I notified Jefferson County Board of Education of my decision. They congratulated me on getting AltCert since they knew how important it was to me. I resigned as a Substitute Teacher in Jefferson County and started work at BSHS several days later.
As the end of the first quarter approached, I was asked to come to the Principals office. The Principal, his Vice and the same member of the Board Office were there. I was informed that I was being replaced by a certified teacher.
On the way home that day, I immediately got on the phone to Jefferson County Schools HR Department and let them know I wanted my Short-Term Sub status back and what happened. They were listing Open positions on the State’s Job Site, as was neighboring Berkeley County. That night I applied for both Counties. I made personal phone calls to the HR Departments of both Jefferson and Berkeley Counties to make sure they had my Applications. They assured me they did.
On Friday, November 4th, I got a call early in the morning from an elementary school in Jefferson County asking me to sub. I got all excited but quickly confirmed they were calling me because they had my business card I left with them two years earlier. I told them I was hoping to reactivate my status as a substitute teacher and perhaps they could call the Board Office to see if they would allow me to help them out. They called me back to say they were told that I “was not being reactivated”.
2 weeks later I was told by both counties that I was not being hired as a Short-Term Substitute, even though I was licensed and ready to go.
As I write this, I have reapplied to Shepherd University for the Spring Semester and am doing every thing I can to re-enter the business world. Perhaps where I belong! Especially since my local Board of Education has shut the door to a teaching career for now.
Seems I burned bridges with Jefferson County when I left at the start of the school year.
I took a chance, AND LOST.
Really stinks! I love teaching the kids.
As for BSHS, I loved teaching the 11th and 12th graders there. I really hoped to see them through the year. I really hoped to complete the AltCert Program in Morgan County and get my Teaching Certificate.
Unfortunately, this was not meant to be. At least not now.
WELCOME TO WEST VIRGINIA, Mr. Douglas!!!!!