Monday, August 29, 2011

Rural Schools Benefit from Teacher Prep Program

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited about a piece of paper in my life,” said Dan Hill, when he received his teaching certificate from the Arizona Department of Education last month.

The former business owner, who left a 30-year career in furniture retail, will now fulfill his longtime goal of being a teacher as he conducts classes in English, government, economics and journalism to students at The Globe Education Center High School in Globe, Arizona.

Dan Hill at the Globe Education Center.
Current data indicates that teachers are in demand nationwide, especially those with specialized skills who are willing to work in rural communities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website, “job prospects are best for teachers in high-demand fields, such as mathematics, science, and bilingual education, and in less desirable urban or rural school districts.”

Carol Moore, principal of The Globe Education Center, also confirmed these statistics. Moore said that high school science and special education are among the most sought after skills at the institution. She states that there is a shortage of such skills in rural areas like Globe where student enrollment has increased.

As principal of The Globe Education Center, Moore and her staff are constantly searching for qualified candidates like Hill with “the proper attitude,” who are willing to work in a rural community like Globe.

There are many advantages to working in a rural community. With a class size limited to 15 students, “You develop a strong bond with the kids,” Moore said, “it’s all about relationships with the kids.”

“The bottom line is: I do not believe I would be a certified, employed teacher already if it wasn’t for Rio Salado College,” said Hill listing Rio Salado’s online flexibility, faculty and student teaching program as factors that contributed to his academic success.  Hill completed Rio’s post-baccalaureate teacher preparation program: an online program which makes teacher preparation available for bachelor degree holders in areas with limited access to higher education.

Rio’s program was recently joined by The New York Times Knowledge Network (NYTKN). The new collaboration will give students added resources including access to The New York Times content repository. Students also gain the opportunity to network with other students from across the nation via blogs, wikis, forums, chats and private student groups. The collaboration is also designed to satisfy a growing need for educators in the nation.

“This is an innovative approach to teacher education, building a community of practitioners who are exceptionally prepared to respond to state and national needs for professionals with 21st century teaching skills,” said Felice Nudelman, executive director, education, The New York Times Company.

Hill said that there are advantages to working in a rural area, “I have a greater amount of autonomy, and the freedom to organize my class in as creative a way as I choose to.”

“I think a relationship with The New York Times brings Rio Salado’s program to a higher level,” said Hill regarding the collaboration. “I don’t think there was any better option to help me earn my teaching credentials than Rio Salado.”

Details about the program can be found at www.discoverteaching.net

About the Author
Jesse Woodbury is a public relations major at Arizona State University completing an internship in the office of institutional advancement at Rio Salado College. 
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