Bringing a world of experience to K-12 classroomsFor Metropolitan State College of Denver, the role of doctors, lawyers, professional ballerinas and military veterans can be summed up in one word - teacher. They represent a sample of the kinds of professionals choosing to participate in alternative teacher licensure programsat the College to become K-12 teachers.
They are among the increasing number of participants enrolling in the Teacher In Residence (TIR), Colorado Accelerated Special Education Licensure (CASEL) and the Alternative Licensure Program (ALP) at Metro State. The number of first-year participants in the three programs, each offering an alternative path to obtaining teacher licensure, has increased 40 percent from last year at this time. Choosing to teach is a common next step for those looking for second or third careers, according to Greg Reed, director of the TIR and ALP programs.
Four Colorado school districts have joined the program since last year.
“Most of our participants have a number of years of experience in the working world,” says Reed, who had a 30-year career in K-12 education before coming to the College in 2005. “They’ve tested out other professions and they have a realistic, mature idea of what they’re getting into when they decide to go into teaching.”
Retired Officer Kevin Osborn, who spent more than 20 years in the U.S. Army, came to the program through the Department of Defense's Troops-to-Teachers program (www.proudtoserveagain.com/). “Teaching is a natural progression,” says Osborn, who trained soldiers and now teaches special education at Vaughn Elementary School in Aurora, Colo. “I work with a fellow TIR teacher, so we have a common base of knowledge. This experience is valuable to me professionally and personally.”
As a participant in the CASEL program, Osborn’s experience goes to help a broad range of students, according to CASEL Director Delia Armstrong. “Credentialed teachers can work with almost any child with a disability, from those with a slight disability to autism to cerebral palsy and those with mobility challenges.”
Jennifer Chengry, who teaches at Landmark Academy Charter School in Brighton School District, is bringing her entertainment background into the classroom. She says her experience in the program has been “Unbelievable. I love seeing the kids up on the stage now versus me. It is an even bigger rush. I love being part of something bigger and impacting the kid’s lives.” But she didn’t initially choose teaching as a profession. “It sort of chose me,” says Chengry, who toured with Up with People to 10 different countries and has worked with Palm Beach Princess Cruise Lines. ”The principal called me and offered me the job.”
Teaching program nears 10 year anniversary
Metro State initiated the Teacher in Residence (TIR) program in 2000, on the heels of 1999 legislation to address teacher shortages by enabling professionals with bachelor’s degrees and experience in other areas to earn their licensure to teach in Colorado public schools. The program, which takes two years to complete, provides an accelerated alternate route to licensure, in which participants teach full-time while completing licensure requirements.
The CASEL program is similar to the TIR program but has a particular emphasis in special education; it was established in 2000 by the same enabling legislation. The ALP was established at Metro State in 2004 for professionals who have taught previously (e.g., in private schools or in other states) but lack Colorado licensure; it takes one year to complete. All participants in these programs teach full time while attending classes at Metro State toward earning their Colorado licensure.
Metro State initiated its Teacher in Residence program in 2000.
New partnerships keep program on track
The programs have also added new school districts and entered into a new partnership with Denver Public Schools. This year, TIR, CASEL and the ALP added four new school districts (Adams 14, Elizabeth, Strasburg, and Mapleton) as members, bringing the total of member districts with which the programs work to 14.
Another new partnership begun this year is with the Denver Teaching Fellows www.denverteachingfellows.org, newly instituted in Denver Public Schools to recruit and train high-achieving individuals who do not have education backgrounds to become teachers for hard-to-staff schools in Denver. Fellows receive a stipend and are eligible for tuition awards. In this highly selective program, 636 applications were submitted, 230 were interviewed and 56 were selected to enroll and become DPS teachers. Of those, 34 are enrolled in Metro State’s TIR program and 22 are enrolled in CASEL.
“We have an outstanding group of people, ranging from 22 to 60 years old,” says Kate Brenan, site manager of the program, which will be accepting applications for 2009 fellows in October. For more information about Metro State’s alternative teacher licensure programs, visit http://www.mscd.edu/~tir/.