Jan. 8, 2009
Morningside College has been awarded a $53,000 grant from the Iowa Department of Education to develop an ongoing program that will give some people the opportunity to become certified to teach without ever losing a paycheck.
The program is for individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree in an endorsable content area, such as music or math, for example, but who still need to earn their teaching certification. Participants would spend one school year taking weekend courses to learn critical teaching skills, and then they would go into the classroom the following year as a paid intern. Assuming the internship goes well, they would complete the rest of their education coursework over the summer and have their initial teaching license by the beginning of the third year.
This program is not meant to replace the traditional education program, so it will only be available to those who have been out of college and in the workforce for at least three years, according to Pete Hathaway, associate professor and chair of education at Morningside. It also will only certify participants to teach at the middle or high school levels. Hathaway said that is because the state already educates more elementary teachers than it employs, but there are critical teacher shortages at the secondary level, especially in certain areas, such as math, science, music and foreign language. He said that is why some school districts may want to provide the paid internships – to obtain teachers in high-need areas.
“We believe that Morningside College is ideally suited to develop this program for several reasons,” Hathaway said. “First, the college is located in a metropolitan area with a large pool of potential candidates and a number of prospective employing districts. In addition, Morningside already operates its graduate program in several locations across the state. That will make it easier for us to replicate this new program in other areas if there is sufficient demand.”
Hathaway was a member of the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners, the board for teacher licensure, back when the board wrote and implemented the rules for this alternative route into the teaching profession. He said there was a teacher shortage then and there is a shortage now, yet there are a lot of highly qualified people out there who want to teach but can’t afford to leave work to go back to school.
The authors of Morningside’s grant application were Hathaway; Susie Lubbers, visiting assistant professor of education; and Nancy Ferdig, who retired last spring from her position as assistant principal at Sioux City North Middle School. Also receiving grants from the Iowa Department of Education to develop similar programs were Simpson College in Indianola and Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield.
Ferdig will be working to coordinate development of the new program at Morningside. The goal is to start classes in August of 2009. Hathaway said the first group will probably be limited to about 20 students. He said more detailed information will not be available until March, so those interested in participating in this program should wait and contact Morningside’s education department at that time.