Donald Dunnigan, Newton County School System associate superintendent for personnel, announced the district's plan to participate in the Visiting International Faculty (VIF) program at Tuesday night's board of education meeting.
"This is an organization that brings foreign teachers to the United States to teach here," Dunnigan said.
He added VIF is the largest such program, with teachers representing 59 nations participating, and is an alternative for meeting system teacher staffing needs.
"The VIF is based on a cultural exchange concept," Dunnigan said. "Not only are they good teachers, but also they bring new cultures to students and when they return to their home countries they bring a new culture there."
Teachers typically serve one to three years and may apply to return to the country to teach.
The thorough application process takes six months to a year and involves credential verification, reference checking, criminal background checks and personal interviews.
Dunnigan said teachers must hold a college degree or teaching diploma equivalent to a U.S. bachelor's of education. He said most applicants have post-graduate degrees.
"These teachers are well-qualified teachers," Dunnigan said.
Board member Ricky Corley expressed concern over the language barrier which might stand between these teachers and Newton County students.
"This is important to me and I want to stress that the teachers that come through VIF are proficient in English," Dunnigan said.
He said he has worked with the program in two other school systems and has never had trouble understanding a VIF teacher. He said Southerners might have trouble understanding a Californian upon first meeting them and vice versa and compared it to the short time it might take to become acquainted with an accent.
Dunnigan explained how VIF teachers are paid on the same scale as native teachers according to their education level and years of experience, but that they are employed by VIF.
"If we have a teacher that comes to us and they're not performing," Dunnigan said, "all we have to do is pick up the phone and call VIF."
He said VIF will offer support and if improvement is not shown will be terminated.
Currently, 13 metro Atlanta school systems are participating in the VIF program with the exception of Bibb County. More than 240 teachers have been assigned to 200 schools in the state of Georgia.
Dunnigan said teachers already in the application process would be ready to fill vacancies made by the opening of the new elementary school for the 2008-2009 school year.
"VIF likes to add these teachers touch the lives of 6,000 plus students a year," Dunnigan said.
In other news from Tuesday's board of education meeting:
The board decided to table the naming of the county's 13th elementary school and fifth middle school under construction on Salem Road until the work session scheduled for Feb. 12. Board members agreed they needed to discuss options more since the names of the schools would be with them for many decades.
The board selected Almond Turner as board chair and Ricky Corley as vice chair.
During public participation, Marcus Hill, submitted a proposal to the board on behalf of the Newton High Band Boosters for new uniforms. Board members asked Hill to return with competitive bids and they would consider adding assistance to the mid-term adjustment.