December 13, 2019

State's Only Alternative Teacher Certification Program Supports Rural Communities

As the only online Alternative Teacher Certification Program in the state, the University of South Dakota School of Education provides talented, local professionals with an opportunity to become a teacher in their own communities.

“We want to open doors to opportunities and provide South Dakota with the best. There are so many talented people in local communities without teaching degrees. This certification expedites the process, giving these talented individuals the freedom to return to the classroom and teach what they are passionate about,” said Damon Alvey, superintendent of the Vermillion School District.

The 15-credit hour program is flexible, and the courses can be completed in any order throughout any period of time. It covers topics in classroom management, teaching methods, student assessment, differentiated instruction, adolescent psychology and South Dakota Indian studies. It is ideal for individuals with a bachelor’s degree in non-education fields who wish to transition to K-12 teaching.

“It’s one of the most rewarding jobs out there. You get the opportunity to work with kids all day long and the chance to mold and shape the future,” Alvey said.

John Schloss said he always had the desire to teach, but circumstances prevented him from taking classes on campus. He had specific criteria for what could work for him – it had to be flexible and affordable.

Schloss knew the Alternative Teacher Certification Program was the right choice for him, as it gave him a chance to take classes online and complete his practicum in his hometown.

Now as a chemistry teacher at the Vermillion High School in Vermillion, South Dakota, Schloss feels he’s where he always wanted to be.

“I was a little bit lost, and I had the inclination that I’ve wanted to teach for a while, but the thing that made me able to achieve my dream was the fact that USD offers this alternative path to getting certified.”