CSM highlights program to draw more local teachers
Partnership with universities allows students to study, student teach locally
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.”
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.