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MUSCATINE — For the first time, a program will be offered at Muscatine Community College that will authorize graduates to become K-12 substitute teachers.

"It's a program we began in Davenport just last year," said Alan Campbell, spokesperson for Eastern Iowa Community Colleges. "We’ve heard from several school districts in our area that there is a real need for these people to fill in when these opportunities appear at the school. And so they are very interested in filling in these (substitute teaching) roles as these positions appear."

The State of Iowa requires would-be substitute teachers to complete the authorization program. Teaching certificates or prior study in education are not required. Anyone with a bachelor's degree or higher can enroll in the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners Approved Substitute Authorization Program.

Clint Heitz, an adjunct professor for Eastern Iowa Community College, designed the proposal for the initial permutations of the class. 

"Doing research about the topic, I was talking to (stakeholders) about what makes a good substitute teacher. What makes it a challenge for being a good substitute teacher? What supports could be provided to make that possible?" Heitz said.

Heitz regularly repeated that his goal was to train substitute teachers that will create a "seamless learning environment."

"One of the things I've found through this research, students want someone who can teach, who can continue their learning," Heitz said. "It's more than just putting on a movie. They want a substitute who is properly trained and can handle a class with some strategies." 

The course will include classes on ethics, diversity, instruction strategies and classroom management. 

Heitz said that when done well, there shouldn't be any indicators that a substitute was there. The classroom should be proceeding at its normal pace. 

"They should be cruising along like a teacher is there," Heitz said. "Students should be engaged in learning. Substitutes should be active in that. The sub comes in early enough to ask questions so that they are as well prepared as possible."

In the Davenport classes, participants have ranged from retirees looking for a good way to spend their time to recent graduates looking to try their hand in education.

"It provides people with a chance to go out and explore a different area of work," Campbell said. "This is a great way to see what teaching is like. Some people may just want to make a little extra money. Some people maybe looking for something a little like an internship. You go into the classroom and explore a career."

The minimum required age for participation is 21. Cost is $139. Class will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6 to 9 p.m., February 5 through 26, in Muscatine Community College's McAvoy Center, 1403 Park Ave. For more information or to register, call 1-888-336-3907.

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