Shortage of Certified Teachers Felt Across W.Va.

LOGAN, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Talk to Dionne Bartley for just a minute or listen to her instruct her seventh and eighth grade students at Logan Middle School, and you'd think she wanted to be a teacher her entire life.

"I don't think there is any time I've been around kids and they've not inspired me to be better," Bartley explained.

But the truth is she was a paralegal with the dreams of being an attorney.

She has a four-year college degree and a license to teach but she's not certified -- yet.

Bartley is a part of a program in Logan called "Transition to Teaching."

"The program has put us through so many classes the things that I didn't know was things like classroom management skills, how to be effective, how to be engaging and with the program you learn all of those things," she explained.

Gary Mullins is a Logan High School special education and science teacher. He also coaches football at the school.

He worked there previously for nine years in a grant-funded position. Now he is working toward certification through this program. It will mean stability for his career and his family.

"I was very close when I got my board of regents degree, but without going back to student teach and taking that whole semester off without being paid, I could have never become a certified teacher," Mullins explained.

Getting teachers certified is key and not necessarily an easy task, educators say.

"Right now, we have three high school positions that are uncertified. Next year, we possibly are looking at four, maybe five," said Logan County Schools Superintendent Wilma Zigmond.

Logan County is not unique in this problem, but it is among the highest in the state.

The other high need areas include Raleigh, Berkeley, Jefferson, Mingo, Boone, Fayette, Wyoming, McDowell and Morgan counties.

"It's an on-the-job-training thing. Is it perfect? No, but it's helped us a lot with a lot of special ed positions," Zigmond said.

For Zigmond not having these positions filled with certified teachers means constant attention to paperwork and job postings. She admits it is time consuming, saying "probably going out into classrooms more than I get to" if she wasn't dealing with this issue.

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