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Renewal lets schools hire more lateral entries with specialized experience

SALISBURY – Renewal programs have given Rowan-Salisbury Schools a much greater degree of freedom than any of the 114 districts in the state.

That freedom even extends to who it can hire.

The state now calls lateral entry a residency license, which lets someone with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university work as a teacher and work toward a state teaching license. Those full teaching licenses are part of Educator Preparation Programs and the teachers get three years to complete their licensure. The difference between lateral entry and residency is the EPP keeps track of a candidate’s progress instead of the school system. Three years is the maximum, but teachers can finish the program in a year.

Under renewal the district can create new types of positions to serve students. Some examples given by District Recruiter Jeanie McDowell were a challenge-based learning design teacher, life skills instructor or a Stem and coding instructor. Those jobs would not need a teacher with a full license, and the flexibility still allows the district to hire who has the right experience for a job.

RSS has already hired people with specialized experience through residency or renewal. McDowell said many of the district’s career and technical education teachers are hired this way, and some of the districts art, music or dance teachers are hired through the residency or renewal.

Retired police officer Bret Johnson teaches an emergency management course at Corriher-Lipe Middle School. Brandy Frick is a third-grade teacher at Hanford Dole Elementary school who spent much of her career before becoming a teacher in clerical positions with the district and the Department of Social Services.

McDowell said renewal allows the schools to hire people who have real-world experience in their fields and also allows the hiring of people who may not meet requirements for a residency license.

The district finds people at job fairs in the community, and is always trying to determine who would be a good fit.

“When we find someone with a passion for students and for a specific subject, we look at the best way to get them into the classroom serving our students,” McDowell said.

Renewal has been an adjustment for human resources. The district’s system was built on the traditional public school model, and the teacher-led design teams created for renewal have provided guidance for the creation of new jobs.

McDowell said the lateral hires allow the district to bring new perspectives to classrooms and they have contacts as well. Johnson’s connections allow him to bring in weekly speakers and give students experiences like visiting a 911 communications center.

“Our goal for renewal is exploration for students,” said Corriher-Lipe Interim Principal April Williamson. “We want them to see all the opportunities that are there.”

Beginning  teachers work directly with licensed teachers, and the program provides support for teachers with less than three years of experience. That includes a mentor, a site support leader at the school they work and a support mentor, who is a retired educator, to check in on them.

McDowell said though the district will hire people without a teaching license, Rowan-Salisbury Schools has high standards for hires. Renewal teachers still need a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.

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