SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Starting September 14, the number of college credit hours required to become a substitute teacher will change.

Governor Mike Parson signed an emergency rule in August, changing the required college credit hours from 60 to 36.

“I think it will certainly open the door to more applicants and candidates to be considered, including college students, whether they’re in a program to become a teacher where they can kind of be in a classroom a little bit earlier and to get their feet wet,” Penmac Branch Manager Steven Sparkman said. Penmac is partnered with several districts in the Ozarks to help get subs in the classroom.

Sparkman said Penmac has a different number of subs for every district. Right now, he said Springfield has around 700 subs available. The sub pool changes depending on the size of the district.

“We still have our team that works each morning to fill those absences that come in overnight, those last minute needs and we’re seeing substitutes are working more,” Sparkman said.

Sparkman is optimistic the updated requirements will bring candidates that are full-time students or work a different job.

“We’ve had students who can only work in the afternoons because they have college classes in the morning,” Sparkman said. “We have people who have other jobs on certain days of the week, so they come in and substitute on days off. So having that flexibility, I think, really helps in this case.”

Candidates with a highschool diploma can also apply for a sub job and will have to complete a 20 hour training course. For Stevi Kay Berry, she took the course at 19 so she could start subbing.

“Being able to sub at an early age gave me the experience I needed to be like, okay, if I can handle working with kids for a day who don’t know me whatsoever, I think I can handle getting my own classroom established,” Berry said.

Berry substitute teaches on Mondays and Fridays in Springfield. She said subbing works well with her class schedule at Missouri State University. Next semester, she will be able to sub three days a week.

“There are days where I go to work and I just cry at the end of the day because I’m so happy with what happened that day and there are days where I cry because it was stressful,” Berry said. “But it taught me so much about the education system that I would never have learned just doing my practicum or going to classes.”

Berry thinks the new requirements will also help bring more college students to substitute teaching.

“Ultimately, I think it will result in a more prepared educating workforce,” Berry said. “Those first year teachers are going to have way more experience under their belt than they would have otherwise.

Berry said the relaxed requirements will also help students decide if teaching is something they want to do full-time.

“A lot of what Education Majors in particular find out is that after 60 college credit hours, they realize, I don’t know if I can do this because I started subbing,” Berry said. “So it gives students a better opportunity to be like, you know what this is for me or this isn’t for me.”

The emergency rule is set to last until March 12, 2023.