Education program produces 'highly qualified' teachers

Posted: Thursday, November 04, 2004

A Kenai Peninsula College faculty adviser told Soldotna business people Tuesday that students completing the education programs at the college are all considered "highly qualified" as defined by the No Child Left Behind Act.

Christine Gehrett, addressing members of the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce, said after a student finishes either the four-year bachelor of arts program in elementary education or the two-year certificate program for those who already have a bachelor's degree, the KPC graduates receive the federal qualification rating.

Both elementary education programs are University of Alaska Anchorage programs offering the same course work and degrees to KPC students they would receive if they attended classes in Anchorage.

But if students are seeking secondary education certification, they have to go to UAA for their master's degree, Gehrett said.

She said the courses in the elementary education program are liberal studies-based, and students must have completed 60 credits before entering their junior year, when they begin attending education foundation courses.

Some of the more advanced courses in the program include teaching reading in elementary schools, teaching mathematics in elementary schools and teaching science in elementary schools.

During a question-and-answer session after her formal presentation, Gehrett said the college also teaches creative arts and physical education, so they are being taught as if they are going to have to teach those things.

Additionally, while students are completing their education foundation course work, they are required to participate in an internship, which places them in an actual classroom, teaching while they are learning, according to Gehrett.

The internship is a year, she said.

"We tell them to save their money 'cause it's difficult to work while in the internship program they're in the classroom and in the community teaching," Gehrett said.

She also was asked if elementary education students are taught anything specific regarding the needs of school children in the Bush.

"Yes," she said. "In fact, we have a class teaching Yupik ways of doing math, and we're exploring the possibility of spending two weeks of the internship teaching in the Bush.

"Job opportunities in the Kenai-Soldotna area are very limited, so there's always a need for people to teach in the Bush," she said.

Gehrett said the program at KPC can accommodate 30 students in the Soldotna area, and this year three students are in the internship portion of the program.

She said she would one day like to see the internship program grow into an actual residency program, during which students would receive partial compensation for teaching.

Other education courses offered at the college include study toward a bachelor of liberal studies degree and an early childhood development program that leads to an associate of applied science certificate.

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