Today@Sam Article

New Alternative Education Programs Offer Opportunities, Advantages

June 12, 2018
SHSU Media Contact: Hannah Haney


4+1 Teaching Cohort

In response to changes in the nation’s workforce needs, the College of Education at Sam Houston State University now offers two unique programs for future educators to earn classrooms of their own.

The first, EdAide Cohort Program, allows paraprofessionals working in public schools the opportunity to complete their bachelor’s degree as well as receive teaching certifications without having to quit their full-time jobs. The program is comprised of 22 candidates, many of which have been working with children in public schools for years, assisting teachers and administrators as classroom aides.

The program was implemented in the fall of 2017 and presented to help paraprofessionals complete their degree in teaching in two years to work in either bilingual or special education.

“These candidates are some of the hardest working students I have ever had. They are in the schools working with children every day and they bring a great deal of practical knowledge to our course,” Daphne Johnson, program coordinator and professor for the department of Curriculum and Instruction said.

For student Cassandra Davila, she has been with her current school district for four years and feels as though she has found what she is meant to do.

“I was already working in special education and knew I wanted to continue in that field. I was told that because I was already working in the field on a daily basis I would be able to be exempt from student teaching,” Davila said. “What caught my attention was that I would be able to complete my degree in two years, I would be in the cohort with the same people throughout those years, and there would be help along the way.” 

In response to the many hours of work the candidates have put into their schools, the Texas Education Agency has waived their student teaching semester. This is beneficial because student teaching is usually very costly and would require the candidates to quit their full-time jobs.

Another program that provides students the opportunity to waive their student teaching obligation, is the 4+1 Teaching Certification cohort that was initiated during the spring of 2018 by program coordinators, Jaime Coyne, Mae Lane, Victoria Hollas from the department of Curriculum and Instruction.

This program offers candidates the opportunity to finish their bachelors and masters degree and earn their teaching certification in five years. Similarly, to the EdAide program, it seeks to meet the demand of high-need areas such as special education, bilingual, and math and science. However, the program is geared towards students that have long-ago made the commitment to education and have been traditionally trained.

The current cohort is composed of 22 candidates. Each candidate was selected after three vigorous rounds of applications, interviews and writing samples. The final round consisted of candidates submitting their own lesson plans and a video recording of themselves teaching in a classroom. 

“There are just some students that once you have them in class you know they don’t really need student teaching, they could go in tomorrow to teach and be fine,” Lane said. “Those are the students that we selected for this first cohort.”

The first cohort will graduate with their bachelors degree on Aug. 4, and will also begin their internship, which is their first year of teaching under a provisional teaching certification. Once they complete their first year of teaching they will be granted their certification and should be close to earning their masters degree.

The program is growing in popularity and currently, 13 school districts have recruited students from the cohort. The program coordinators envision that they will add even more cohorts as communities learn of its success.

“It is really a win-win for the students and the school districts because there is a demand to have prepared teachers especially in the high-need areas. These individuals are the cream-of-the-crop students, the top in their class, and they are ready to be classroom teachers,” Coyne said.

For candidate, Mayra Meza, the program has empowered her to get back on track after taking time off to raise her children. 

“I am a mom of two and I did not go to college right out of high school. I was set back a few years and this program will make up for some of that time,” Meza said. “It has been so rewarding to find the right balance between earning my education and raising my children. I feel empowered. It was not easy getting into this program and I feel like this college has brought me amazing opportunities.”

For candidate Asia Harrell, the program is the perfect fit for those ready to begin their careers.

“If you are ready, this is the perfect opportunity,” Harrell said. “My ultimate goal is to be a Superintendent and I plan to stay with SHSU to get my doctorate degree because the school has already offered me so much.”

The College of Education at SHSU continually demonstrates its flexibility and a willingness to work with students in all stages of life. Programs like EdAide and 4+1 exist to help meet community needs.

“We produce very prepared and qualified teachers,” Hollas said.

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