Education students in a new George Washington University program can be certified as secondary school teachers after a year of training and receive a master's degree after two years. An article in Thursday's Virginia Weekly erroneously reported the time it would take to earn the master's degree. (Published 7/25/87)

The Fairfax County school system, which, like its counterparts in other jurisdictions, suffers from a shortage of substitute teachers, will get some relief this fall when a dozen students from George Washington University sign on as year-long substitutes.

The students, who will be enrolled in the university's School of Education and Human Development, will work as substitute teachers in county schools and take required classes at GW during the afternoons, evenings and weekends.

The aim of the program, which officials said is the first of its kind in the area, is to take liberal arts and science graduates and certify them as secondary school teachers, with a master's degree in education, after a year's training.

Fred Murakami, a personnel official with Fairfax schools, says the program "is a mechanism to supplement the substitute pool."

"All of us, all the school districts, are having difficulty getting enough substitutes," Murakami said. "This is . . . an innovative way to get additional substitutes."

Twelve students have signed up to participate in the year-long scholarship program, which could expand in future years if it gets off to a good start.

Mary Louise Ortenzo, admissions coordinator for George Washington's school of education, said the program will give would-be teachers better training than the traditional 10-week student-teaching requirement provides.

"We have felt for a long time that having one 10-week period of student teaching is really not sufficient for the preparation of teachers," Ortenzo said. "So it's been a sink-or-swim situation, and teachers learn by trial and error for the most part. This approach will try to minimize that period of trial and error because the "All of us . . . are having difficulty getting enough substitutes. This is . . . an innovative way to get additional substitutes."

-- Fred Murakami

teachers will be working in the schools for an entire year."

Jay Shotel, acting dean of the school of education, likens the program to a medical residency and said it is attracting more qualified applicants than those who traditionally enroll in the school of education.

Shotel said he thinks the program will increase interest in teaching among liberal arts graduates, and noted that "we can put them into their field almost immediately."

The training program is modeled on one begun in 1981 at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. That program now includes 12 local school districts and more than 100 student teachers, according to Dr. Louise Soares, its founder.

Soares said the program benefits not only the students but the school systems where they teach.

In Fairfax, the new substitute teachers will be assigned to specific departments, such as English or science, and will work only in their assigned subject areas.

When not teaching, they will sit in on classes, tutor students and help teachers.