USD 418 May Seek First Teacher Licensure Waiver ; Waiver: Sheedy Passed Classroom Management Test, District Says

By Llopis-Jepsen, Celia | The Topeka Capital-Journal, August 21, 2015 | Go to article overview

USD 418 May Seek First Teacher Licensure Waiver ; Waiver: Sheedy Passed Classroom Management Test, District Says


Llopis-Jepsen, Celia, The Topeka Capital-Journal


A former environmental instructor at an Arizona zoo who also is licensed to teach in that state is the first potential applicant for a controversial teacher licensure waiver that has drawn criticism from the state's main teachers union.

McPherson High School chemistry teacher Caitlin Sheedy hasn't decided whether to apply, but administrators at her district, McPherson Unified School District 418, said Thursday they are interested it putting her name forward under the new pilot program, which is designed to give half a dozen school districts greater flexibility in staffing decisions.

"We wouldn't do this for just any teacher," said Angela McDonald, head of instruction at USD 418. "Caitlin is so good at what she does, and reaches the kids. And we want that person in the classroom."

Sheedy is starting her third year of teaching at USD 418. She has a bachelor's degree in biology and completed a program in Arizona to transition into the teaching profession. She is certified in that state to teach biology and middle school science.

"I enjoy working with my students," Sheedy said. "I think it's really rewarding to get to share something I'm really passionate about."

Kansas has granted her a provisional license to teach biology, but not chemistry.

This means McPherson High School is considered by the state to be offering pre-AP and AP chemistry classes without a teacher fully qualified for those courses. The state also wants her to take three additional courses related to pedagogy.

Kansas' new waiver process, however, would let the district circumvent this to give Sheedy a one-year license for her current job. Only the six districts in Kansas' Coalition of Innovative School Districts -- of which McPherson is one -- can tap into the waiver option.

To do so, the districts must seek approval from the Kansas State Board of Education on a case-by-case basis. …

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