The Trigg County Board of Education has approved a measure that will allow several of its classified employees to become teachers.

The contract with the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg was approved at a board meeting Thursday as part of the consent agenda.

“This is a new method for individuals to become certified teachers,” said Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Karen Solise, noting that there is a shortage of individuals wanting to go into teaching.

Solise said 11 people initially expressed interest in the program last fall, although some discovered they had more college hours and could go a different route to the classroom.

Four people are now participating in the program, which is identified as Option 9.

Solise said the four will work at their jobs in the local school district during the day and complete college courses offered online by University of the Cumberlands at night.

The four are instructional aides at Trigg County Middle School, according to Solise.

She noted that an individual with no college hours will be able to get his teaching certification through the program in three years.

The assistant superintendent said the district is also interested in “growing our own,” i.e., training people already in the district for jobs.

“We want people that want to be in Trigg County,” she noted, adding that “we want to feed into the people that are here that are doing the work and want to be here.”

Under the parameters of the agreement, participants must teach in special education, math, science or social studies at Trigg County Middle School or Trigg County High School.

Those areas are where the most needs are, where the school district is struggling to find people who are certified to fill those positions.

Solise said the four participants are starting in the program either this week or next week. Two are focusing on special education. One will be teaching science, and the other, social studies.

Solise said the district will be paying tuition for the four participants, and she explained that, if one of the participants needs a year of instruction and the district pays for that year, for example, that person must commit to coming back to Trigg County for at least that year.

If a participant doesn’t finish his courses, he must pay back what the district invested in him.

Solise also noted that the participants had to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid first just as anyone would to see if they qualified for grants or other aid.

“I just feel like it’s a very good investment on both parties,” she said of the effort. “It really is a win-win situation for both of us because then we also get to invest the time to coach them along (and familiarize them with) teaching and the expectations that we have here in our county.”

Solise said the participants expressed their desire to go back to school but found it difficult.

She said they have all been very appreciative that the district has offered to support them while they continue to support local students.

“It really has paid off,” Solise said.

Director of Student Services and Personnel James Mangels noted that it will help to fill vacancies the district is struggling to fill and in instances where the applicants aren’t out there.

At last week’s board meeting, Thorpe also noted that February is School Board Appreciation Month and recognized local board members, giving information about each.

Board Chairman JoAlyce Harper has 14 years of service with the district and has three years remaining in her current term. Vice Chairman Theresa Allen has eight years of service, with three years remaining in her current term.

Board member Charlene Sheehan has served the district for four years and has four years remaining. Gayle Rufli has served seven years and has three years remaining in her term.

Clara Beth Hyde has served four years in the district and has four years left in her term.

In other business:

  • The superintendent reported that the district “did perfect” on its yearly audit. A report from the Kentucky Department of Education noted that there were no differences in the fiscal year 2021-2022 audit, according to Thorpe.
  • The superintendent also shared that Trigg County High School seniors Ramey Mazac and Gauge Wade are the 2022-2023 recipients of career and technical education student grants. Each student will receive a $250 grant.
  • The board approved the dates for its 2023 meetings and decided to continue having two meetings a month after discussing the possibility of having only one meeting.
  • Board members approved the following appointments for the district’s calendar committee: teachers Bradley Stewart and Courtney Brame, classified employees Maria Plymale and John Fuller, parents Bethany Curtis and Dustin Gilbert, Ashley Johnson of the Trigg County Chamber of Commerce and a representative of Trigg County Tourism. These will serve in addition to Mangels, Board Member Charlene Sheehan and Principal Amy Breckel, who were appointed to the committee earlier.
  • The board acknowledged review of a draft budget for the 2024 fiscal year.

Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or tgrace@kentuckynewera.com.

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