BVU offers online 17-hour substitute authorization course

Friday, October 2, 2020

Buena Vista University is offering a convenient online Substitute Authorization course to address a need for certified substitute teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The course follows a proclamation signed this summer by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, which lists changes in requirements for those who seek a Substitute Authorization Certification. Requirements to enroll in the Substitute Authorization course and earn certification include meeting the new age requirement of 20 years of age and holding an associate degree or completion of 60 credit hours through a regionally accredited institution. Individuals who hold a current paraeducator certificate without an associate degree are also eligible to complete the course. Background checks and fingerprinting are required in order to earn the final, official certification.

BVU’s 17-hour self-paced online course, beginning in October 2020, will offer students more flexibility to become a licensed substitute teacher in Iowa. Cost for the course is $200.

“Students will enroll online and have two weeks to complete the 17-hour online course,” says Dr. Brittany Garling, Interim Dean of BVU’s School of Education. “After completing the substitute authorization course and meeting other state requirements, students will be eligible to serve our districts as substitute teachers.”

BVU’s Board of Educational Examiner’s approved Substitute Authorization course focuses on the requirements set forth by the State Governor to meet the needs of the Substitute Authorization Certification program. The course will provide a more in-depth understanding of classroom management techniques, instructional strategies to enhance students’ higher-order thinking skills, differentiation to meet the diversity of students’ needs, and ethical responsibilities as a member of the PK-12 educational setting. Classroom observation hours are also embedded within the course through modeling videos that support the main state components presented.

“This course will help supply Iowa school districts with an important part of the workforce that is ready to take over in a key time in our history,” Garling says. “We’re grateful BVU is in a strong position to be able to offer this course with teaching veteran, Dr. Susan Skaar, leading our efforts.”

Dr. Susan Skaar is a BVU Instructor of Education and teaches both undergraduate and graduate-level courses. Dr. Skaar has over 25 years of experience in education, including extensive experience in both face-to-face and online teaching in both higher education and K-12. She has been a classroom teacher for grades 5, middle school grades 6-8, and a K-8 school principal.

Dr. Skaar holds a B.A. in child guidance counseling, an M.A, Ed. in urban education, and an Ed.D. in educational leadership. She also has a K-6 elementary education license, a 5-9 math and science license, and K-12 administrative license.

Students interested in the course will need to complete a registration form before sending transcripts to Jamie Mullen, BVU Education Coordinator/Advisor. For more information and registration details, please visit