CSM high­lights pro­gram to draw more lo­cal teach­ers

Part­ner­ship with uni­ver­si­ties al­lows stu­dents to study, stu­dent teach lo­cally

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

A part­ner­ship pro­gram be­tween the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land and two Mary­land uni­ver­si­ties is al­low­ing South­ern Mary­land stu­dents who want to be­come teach­ers to com­plete their stud­ies with­out trav­el­ing far from home.

Raven Smoot, a grad­u­ate of Henry E. Lackey High School, said that prior to at­tend­ing CSM,

she went to an out-of-state col­lege, but the ex­pe­ri­ence was not a pos­i­tive one for her.

“I re­al­ized that I didn’t like liv­ing in a dorm, I didn’t like liv­ing away from home, I didn’t like that en­vi­ron­ment, and I wasn’t very happy,” Smoot said. “So I trans­ferred to CSM.”

Smoot grad­u­ated from CSM with an as­so­ciates de­gree in ed­u­ca­tion and is now en­rolled at Tow­son Uni­ver­sity, but she’s tak­ing all of her classes and com­plet­ing her stu­dent teach­ing with­out leav­ing South­ern Mary­land. Smoot said she is thrilled to be able to do her stu­dent teach­ing in Charles County, at J.P. Ryon El­e­men­tary.

“This pro­gram ac­com­mo­dates ev­ery­one, it’s re­ally amaz­ing, and I am 110 per­cent sat­is­fied with my de­ci­sion,” Smoot said. “I was born and raised and taught in Charles County schools, and now I get to teach in Charles County schools.”

CSM held an open house for in­ter­ested stu­dents Wed­nes­day night at its Prince Fred­er­ick cam­pus.

CSM part­ners with Tow­son Uni­ver­sity and Notre Dame of Mary­land Uni­ver­sity to al­low stu­dents to com­plete stud­ies to­ward a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in early child­hood or el­e­men­tary ed­u­ca­tion as well as their state teacher cer­ti­fi­ca­tions from CSM’s cam­puses.

The pro­grams meet all state re­quire­ments for teacher cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, said Elizabeth Set­tle, teacher ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram co­or­di­na­tor at CSM.

“Their de­gree is from Tow­son Uni­ver­sity or Notre Dame, they’re just tak­ing off-site classes,” Set­tle said.

She said stu­dents in­ter­ested in either pro­gram ap­ply to the col­lege be­fore they com­plete their as­so­ci­ate’s de­gree as a trans­fer stu­dent, just as they would if they were phys­i­cally at­tend­ing the school.

Set­tle said the dif­fer­ence be­tween the two col­lege pro­grams is that the Tow­son pro­gram is full time, with classes held dur­ing the day, while the Notre Dame pro­gram is geared to­ward part-time stu­dents, with some classes held in the evenings.

Classes are typ­i­cally small, 10 to 15 stu­dents per class. They are taught by a mix of fac­ulty from the re­spec­tive uni­ver­si­ties and lo­cal pro­fes­sion­als hired as ad­junct pro­fes­sors. Both col­leges teach cour­ses at CSM’s La Plata and Prince Fred­er­ick cam­puses.

Af­ter stu­dents have com­pleted their re­quire­ments to­ward an as­so­ci­ate’s de­gree in ed­u­ca­tion, they are able to ap­ply to Tow­son or Notre Dame of Mary­land, and if ac­cepted, they may com­plete their re­quire­ments to­ward a bach­e­lor’s de­gree and state cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in early child­hood or el­e­men­tary ed­u­ca­tion on a CSM cam­pus.

Tow­son col­lab­o­rates with lo­cal schools in Charles and St. Mary’s coun­ties to provide aca­demic and clin­i­cal prepa­ra­tion for teacher can­di­dates. Notre Dame of Mary­land works with all three South­ern Mary­land coun­ties to place stu­dents in in­tern­ships.

Charles County Pub­lic Schools has be­gun the past three school years short on teach­ers. Hu­man re­sources per­son­nel have said that one of the main rea­sons teach­ers give for leav­ing is to move closer to fam­ily, the ma­jor­ity of teach­ers be­ing from out of state.

The 2+2 pro­grams give lo­cal schools the op­por­tu­nity to “grow their own” teach­ers, Set­tle said.

Be­cause they do their stu­dent teach­ing in South­ern Mary­land, grad­u­ates have al­ready made pro­fes­sional con­nec­tions within the lo­cal school sys­tems, Set­tle said.

“One of the big­gest ad­van­tages is get­ting to know the school dis­trict you hope to teach in,” Set­tle said.

Maria Es­tevez is one stu­dent tak­ing ad­van­tage of the Tow­son 2+2 pro­gram. She said she’s wanted to be a teacher since she was in sec­ond grade.

“At first, it was set­ting up class­rooms in my house,” Es­tevez said. “But as I got older, I re­al­ized this was some­thing I re­ally wanted to do.”

A 2014 grad­u­ate of North Point High School, Es­tevez said she took part in the ed­u­ca­tion ca­reers pro­gram of­fered through the school, which gave her the op­por­tu­nity to work in North Point’s day­care and to do stu­dent teach­ing at el­e­men­tary schools.

“Once I had the first stu­dent who had a ‘light­bulb’ mo­ment with me, I knew this was what I wanted to do,” Es­tevez said.

Es­tevez grad­u­ated from CSM last spring with an as­so­ci­ate’s de­gree in ed­u­ca­tion, and is now tak­ing part in the 2+2 pro­gram with Tow­son.

“We get to learn from for­mer ed­u­ca­tors, not just pro­fes­sors, which is very help­ful, be­cause they’re not just teach­ing from a book, they’ve been in the class­room,” Es­tevez said.

She said the con­ve­nience of tak­ing her classes on the CSM cam­pus was also a plus in terms of not hav­ing to pay for stu­dent hous­ing.

“It’s a great way to learn teach­ing with­out leav­ing home, and with hav­ing it cost less,” Es­tevez said.

She com­pleted her teacher practicum in Charles County, and said she hopes to teach in the county af­ter com­plet­ing her stud­ies.

Kaylin Beach is a for­mer home­schooled stu­dent from La Plata who be­gan her stud­ies at CSM at the age of 16. Now she is a se­nior at Tow­son, al­though she has taken all of her classes lo­cally through the 2+2 pro­gram.

“I fell in love with the Tow­son pro­gram, know­ing that they are a teacher col­lege, know­ing that it would al­low me to stay in the county, that it wasn’t a lot of travel, plus it al­lowed me to stay away from stu­dent loans. It just seemed like the per­fect fit,” Beach said.

Faith Peter of Cobb Is­land, an­other stu­dent in Tow­son’s 2+2 pro­gram, said that fam­ily is im­por­tant to her, and be­ing able to stay at home was a huge plus.

“It’s close to me. I didn’t want to go all the way to Bal­ti­more to school and be away from ev­ery­one,” Peter said.

Beth Han­cock com­pleted her bach­e­lor’s through Notre Dame’s pro­gram and is cur­rently pur­su­ing her master’s de­gree through Notre Dame. A grad­u­ate of La Plata High School, Han­cock said teach­ing is a ca­reer change for her, and be­ing able to con­tinue her stud­ies lo­cally was a huge ben­e­fit.

“I had a fan­tas­tic ex­pe­ri­ence with [Notre Dame],” Han­cock said. “I loved the con­ve­nience of it. They of­fer all the cour­ses in the evenings, so I was able to work through my stud­ies.”

STAFF PHOTO BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

From left, Raven Smoot and Kaylin Beach, stu­dents in Tow­son Uni­ver­sity’s 2+2 pro­gram, and Beth Han­cock, a stu­dent in Notre Dame of Mary­land Uni­ver­sity’s pro­gram, speak about be­ing able to pur­sue their bach­e­lor’s de­grees and teach­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion through part­ner­ship pro­grams with the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land dur­ing an open house Wed­nes­day evening.

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