Liberty County School System Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee outlined a plan to attract professionals to open teaching positions during the Board of Education’s most-recent work session.
Lee first proposed the idea, a change to the Nontraditional Long-term Substitute initiative, at a previous BoE meeting. It involves professionals who have a degree in a related content area but are not certified to teach and aren’t eligible for the Induction Pathway 4, or IP4, certificate, which is for qualified teacher candidates who have not completed a traditional educator program.
The district hires substitute teachers with degrees, and this route will allow them to be hired like a first-year teacher, but with less pay and a partial benefit package.
Since her first discussion, Lee said, she has been in contact with Kelly Henson, the executive secretary of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. The PSC is allowing the district to offer waiver certificates to those hired under the nontraditional-substitute program for one year, meaning these individuals would be certified to teach.
There are specific requirements these new teachers must follow in order to maintain the certification and move on to receive IP4 certification. Lee said a series of courses has been designed for the new teachers, including lesson planning, effective instruction, parent conferences and classroom management. She added that the PSC requires these teachers to enroll in a university program to complete their certification.
Board member Carol Guyett asked whether these teachers would be on a different pay scale or the same as regular first-year teachers. Lee answered that, initially, the school system was to develop a different pay scale. But because under the PSC program, they will certified, these teachers will receive the same pay as a first-year teachers, Lee said.
New digital technology
Assistant Superintendent Susan Avant spoke of new digital technology programs — which were all approved by the board — and resources for the district.
First was the MyOn Digital Library, which provides access to more than 9,200 books and literacy tools. Most of the content is currently for kindergarten through eighth grade, with books for ninth-grade transition reading courses. Avant said high school libraries are limited and not yet robust enough, but that they will add books for high-school students when more become available in the library.
The digital library will cost slightly more than $59,000 and will be funded through the general fund.
Next, Avant spoke about Vizitech USA 3-D Labs. She said the 3-D Lab offers math, science and social studies content.
Students will be able to interact with content by wearing 3-D glasses. For example, when studying anatomy, students can hold an image of the human heart virtually in their hands, move it around, take away parts and see inside. Avant said this is the next step for Liberty County students.
One board member described students being able to put on the glasses and walk through a battle scene, as part of the social studies content.
The district also will add six stationary labs. Students will have to travel to the lab stations. Avant said that they will first be placed in schools seeking STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) certification and hope to eventually have a 3-D Lab in every school. Each lab will have one portable device called a Rover, which allows for larger groups and classrooms to have interaction with the content.
Board member Verdell Jones was concerned about the lab accessing the Internet, making it vulnerable to viruses. Avant said the labs will not connect with the Internet because all content is programmed into the machine. Any new updates or new content will have to be purchased for the labs.
Lee and Jones inquired about a service agreement with the manufacturer for maintenance and repairs. Avant said that the labs have a one-year warranty, but a service contract was not provided by the manufacturer. She agreed to go back and look into receiving a written agreement.
The 3-D Labs, which cost $467,669, will be paid for with Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax money. Avant announced that Bradwell Institute will receiving a 3-D Lab in the next two weeks.
The last digital purchase presented — also approved by the board — was for teachers, administrators and support staff. Edivation PD 360 is an online, user-friendly platform for school personnel. It features videos and reading material for instruction, and can be customized for different certified and classified positions.
Lee likened the platform to a YouTube for teacher learning. She said teachers also may upload videos of themselves teaching for others to use. Lee said nontraditional-substitute teachers can use the site for instruction as well.
The platform will cost $71,500 and is being funded through federal Title II and state professional learning funds.