SIDNEY, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – For the past three years, Sidney Central School District has struggled to fill vacant teacher positions, until a recent partnership with local college students.

An initiative between Sidney and SUNY Oneonta students studying Childhood Education offers an opportunity to teach real classes of kids, while also addressing the district’s staffing issues.

Every Wednesday, the Oneonta students spend a full day teaching at Sidney.

They have the same responsibilities as a teacher, including creating their own lesson plans and giving student assessments.

Senior at Oneonta Gabrielle Stemmer says that for the past three years she has been studying the best teaching practices, but now, she gets to see them in action.

Senior at SUNY Oneonta, Gabrielle Stemmer says, “It makes it much more comfortable for me to be here too. Cause we feel valued. We know that they want us here, and all of our teachers have been so nice and so helpful. You can just tell that we are being helpful and I think that that’s really cool, just to like have somebody who cares about us and really wants to show us how to do the right thing.”

This Spring, 40 Oneonta students are teaching at Sidney.

Sidney created the Red Dragon room in the middle school, so the Oneonta students have a place to gather and debrief on how their days went.

Three of the student teachers have even been hired on as long-term substitutes.