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Danville Independent Schools

Sara Ridge and Michaela Stone
Sara Ridge smiles with a certificate of excellence at a board of education meeting.

Staff members selected for the Option 9 cohort, Sara Ridge and Michaela Stone, were recognized at Monday's Board of Education meeting. In this photo, Ridge accepts a certificate of excellence.

Michaela Stone

Michaela Stone is pictured.

 

The Danville Independent School District would like to congratulate the staff members who are part of the DISD’s Option 9 cohort, Sarah Ridge and Michaela Stone. Both Ridge and Stone are currently instructional assistants at Edna L. Toliver Intermediate School.

Option 9 is a way for staff members in non-teaching positions to complete their bachelor’s degree and initial teacher certification in a three-year period. Through this program in the DISD,  certifications are offered through Eastern Kentucky University and the University of the Cumberlands. 

To be accepted into the program, candidates must meet a GPA requirement, complete an application and interview, and get a recommendation from a current principal. The selection committee includes all four school principals, the chief academic officer and the director of special education. 

The district is willing to help with the college application process, and by committing to a candidate, the district agrees to pay the classified staff person for their time while completing student teaching and observation hours. Also, by accepting a candidate into the program, the district believes they are someone the district would like to hire as a certified teacher.

“This program boosts recruitment of classified staff who may be looking for additional opportunities,” said Suzanne Farmer, chief academic officer. “It's a great opportunity for classified staff who can finish a program in three years (as opposed to four) and be paid during student teaching. This is the only certification pathway that allows for student teachers to be paid. At the same time, it's a recruitment and retention strategy for certified employees because we are investing in growing certified teachers here in our district. The people in this pathway have a passion for working in the Danville Independent Schools already.” 

Ridge, who will be pursuing a Moderate and Severe Disabilities (MSD) teaching certification, said she knew she wanted to be an MSD teacher after working at Toliver. 

“Once I started working in the classroom, I knew that was where I needed to be,” she said. “It was different from what I used to, but I quickly got the hang of it. I still have to learn things, but I had the opportunity to work with Kayleigh Hunstad, a phenomenal teacher. She has taught me a lot, and I am glad I got to work with her.”

Having been a student in the DISD  herself, Ridge said that learning from and working with teachers in the DISD has inspired her. 

“I have always been in the Danville School system,” she said. “I went to Jennie Rogers for elementary and absolutely loved it there. All of the teachers at Jennie Rogers were fantastic role models and truly cared about their students’ success. I am looking forward to caring about these students like I have seen Danville teachers do. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with than Danville teachers.”

Stone echoed this same love for working in the DISD. 

“There are way too many great things to say about the Danville Schools,” she said. “I love my colleagues, admin, and students. I have always felt supported and cheered for. I entered into education in a very casual way, not thinking it would make the impact it did. It has its challenging times, but having an uplifting team like Toliver makes all the difference. My colleagues have turned into friends and have made the biggest impact on my confidence and growth as an educator.”

She said she feels honored and excited to be selected for the Option 9 Cohort. 

“This is an amazing opportunity and a huge honor to know the faith my admin have in me to allow me the opportunity,” she said. 

“This program will open many doors and make it a more streamlined process for the degree,” she continued. “It’s great to know the support I will have with Option 9.” 

Farmer said the application process for this year is closed, but the district’s intent is to recruit for the cohort again next year. 

“If someone is interested in the meantime, they can reach out to me,” she said.

  • Danville Independent Schools
  • disd
  • option 9
  • option 9 cohort
  • toliver