Albany County School District No. 1 board members agreed Wednesday to pilot a new year-long student teaching program for the University of Wyoming, which is in the midst of overhauling its College of Education curriculum.

Currently, student teaching in Wyoming involves just one semester, which doesn’t come with any pay.

In the new student teaching program designed especially for rural schools, UW’s new piloted program places a student teacher in a district for a full academic year.

While UW is piloting the program with Laramie schools, ACSD No. 1 Superintendent Jubal Yennie said the school district is unlikely to use the student teaching model long-term.

Under the pilot program set to begin in the 2020-2021 school year, ACSD No. 1 will offer the program to two students.

The two student teachers will work under the supervision of a full-time elementary school teacher for a year, and a “master teacher” will provide guidance during the first 10 weeks of the school year.

That master teacher will be paid a stipend of $17,500 for the 10 weeks of work, and each student teacher will be paid a $22,230 stipend during the second semester of student teaching. They will also receive medical benefits during their time with the district.

“The idea is that a lot of school districts in Wyoming cannot have student teachers because it’s so economically challenging,” Yennie said. “The idea is that if you create a stipend you create more opportunities for those kinds of places to do that. We don’t have that need.”

He said the program could also allow some rural districts to use the program to fill teacher shortages.

Unlike the conventional student teaching model, Yennie said the district will have more discretion in picking the two students for the program.

“The benefit to the district is that we’ll be able to have a more defined student teaching model, and I think there are some things we can learn from the one-year pilot by being with the university on the implementation of this,” Yennie said. “And we’ll actually be shaping the mentor teacher part of this thing”

During the pilot year, the two student teachers will be assigned to two elementary school classrooms. During the fall semester, the student teachers will be enrolled in College of Education coursework for 15 or 16 credits and will complete normal assignments related to student teaching.”

After the completion of the fall semester, the students will receive their degrees and then will become the teacher-of-record in their classrooms.

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