Student teachers studying at Purdue University Fort Wayne are helping local school systems fill a much-needed role as substitute teachers and – because of a change brought on in part by the pandemic – getting paid for it.

This shift was inspired by Purdue University, which recently modified its policy concerning student teachers working as paid substitutes. Purdue Fort Wayne’s School of Education decided to make a similar change in March.

“We knew our school partners were struggling with needing subs, so when we heard about Purdue’s move, we wanted to do the same,” said Isabel Nuñez, director of Purdue Fort Wayne’s School of Education. “Student teachers pay full tuition for the experience of working full-time under the guidance of a mentor teacher – they do not get paid. I love that this provides an opportunity for our students to both help their schools and make a financially challenging semester a little easier.”

Allen County school superintendents learned of the change a few weeks ago at one of their regularly scheduled meetings. Superintendent Mark Daniel of Fort Wayne Community Schools noted that like many school districts, FWCS struggles to find enough substitute teachers on a day-to-day basis.

“By allowing student teachers to receive sub pay when filling in for their supervising teacher, we are acknowledging and facilitating their growing expertise in the classroom, and it allows for continuity of instruction with a teacher the students already know,” said Daniel. “Letting students serve as a substitute for up to 10 days can help all the local districts address that shortage.”

Since the change was made less than a month ago, only four of Purdue Fort Wayne’s student teachers have been approved to take part in the program so far, but more could be added between now and the end of the semester according to Nuñez.

Mackenzie Snider, a senior majoring in education, believes this is a tremendous opportunity.

“As a student teacher, you are constantly building your tool bag and substitute teaching adds quite a number of experiences and tools to that bag,” noted Snider, adding, “Not to mention, after not being able to work, being paid here and there is very nice and appreciated greatly!

The Waynedale News Staff
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