Education

USF guarantees elementary teachers a job in Manatee school district

USF president visits Sarasota on a ‘listening tour’

Steven Currall, the University of South Florida's seventh president, visited Sarasota-Manatee during his first day at the helm.
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Steven Currall, the University of South Florida's seventh president, visited Sarasota-Manatee during his first day at the helm.

Through a new agreement with the Manatee County School District, the University of South Florida has guaranteed a teaching job to students who graduate from the elementary education program at USF Sarasota-Manatee.

About 15 students are starting their final internships and preparing for graduation in December, making them eligible for the new program. Scores of future teaching graduates could also benefit from the agreement, which takes effect in the fall, according to a news release.

The school district will require USF students to file a job application and finish all courses at the university, and to sign a contract with human resources, ensuring their placement in the district.

“Once they graduate, and after meeting district criteria, the students will work as long-term substitute teachers until the state issues teaching certificates to allow them to transition to full-time public school teachers,” the news release states.

The idea arose from a meeting between district principals and university staff in January. It became a priority for Marie Byrd, director for the School of Education at USF Sarasota-Manatee; and for Vanessa Marasco, the university’s coordinator of clinical education.

“I can imagine that many of our students will want to to sign up right away,” Marasco said in a prepared statement. “This is a life-changing opportunity for our students. They’re going to be able to graduate with a job.”

Students at USF Sarasota-Manatee, who complete three internships before graduation, are often familiar with Manatee’s employees and policies. Byrd now hopes to reach a similar agreement with Sarasota County Public Schools, according to her statement.

“The positive feedback we have received from principals and teachers in the district affirms that our graduates are highly qualified to begin their teaching careers,” Byrd said in the news release.

“This opportunity will assist with the teacher shortage that has been a nationwide issue,” she continued.

In a follow-up interview, Marasco said she expected teaching vacancies in the upcoming school year, and that graduates are certified to teach in kindergarten through sixth grade. Officials had not discussed how to guarantee jobs if no vacancies existed, but Marasco was confident that USF and Manatee would find a solution.

“If that was the case, they could at least still substitute in the county, and then be guaranteed that,” she said. “We haven’t discussed that, though.”

More information about the School of Education is available at usfsm.edu, under the “Academics” tab and the section for “Colleges and Schools.”

The School of Education is housed within the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, and its dean, Jane Rose, released her own prepared statement on Wednesday morning.

“We are grateful to the School District of Manatee County for formalizing this opportunity for our students, and we are proud that our teacher-preparation program produces such consistently excellent teachers that the school district sees no risk in making this commitment of employment,” she said.

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