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Masters Program Sends Aspiring Teachers Back to School

KEENE, N.H. 1/15/03 Theres no form of education quite as absorbing and enlightening as learning on the job, say Debbie Black and Janaki Tschannerl, education department faculty members at Keene State College.

Black and Tschannerl have established a new graduate program at Keene State, called World Educational Links: Teaching Toward a Global Community, in which students are paired with established teacher mentors for a school year.

The program, which is offered through KSCs Master in Education in Curriculum and Instruction program, comprises a 12-month teacher residency designed to provide practical experience and certification for graduate students. According to David Hill, dean of professional and graduate studies, the World Educational Links (WEL) program is in line with the Bush Administrations No Child Left Behind legislation, which encourages educational institutions to find innovative, alternative ways to prepare teachers.

A critical component of the No Child Left Behind legislation is the requirement that schools have highly qualified teachers, explains Hill. We believe that there is more than one way to prepare these teachers. The WEL program is an alternative to traditional teacher education programs for typical graduate students and for individuals changing careers.

Teachers from Emmerson Elementary School in Fitzwilliam and Great Brook Middle School in Antrim are serving as field sites for the program. The mentor teachers at these schools serve as partners with Keene State faculty in the preparation of the new teachers.

According to Black, about 15 aspiring teachers enrolled in the program last August. They will spend the entire 2002-03 academic year in the classroom - almost twice as long as student-teacher internships in other programs - shadowing their mentor and developing and teaching their own curricula. Students will work with their support team - a KSC faculty member and their mentoring teachers - to create individualized learning plans to ensure that they develop the competencies necessary to meet N.H. teaching standards for state certification.

The program differs from others already available, says Tschannerl, in terms of its emphasis on understanding cultural diversity in a global society, its three phases of preparation, and the amount of time aspiring teachers are expected to be in class.

The programs focus on cultural diversity reflects the increasingly global world children find themselves living in today, Tschannerl explains. Educators need to be able to frame their teaching methods and curriculum in terms of what is happening in the world, she says. Childrens lives are affected by global events. In order to create optimal learning environments, teachers need to have a world view and an understanding of cultural diversity.

Assessment and certification will be based on a portfolio that each aspiring teacher is required to produce over the year, exhibitions of projects and research, and teaching observations, explains Black. During the year, the aspiring teachers will attend seminars and institutes at Keene State.

This is the second full-time, internship-based, masters level program to be offered by KSC. In 2001, the College introduced a 12-month residency program for aspiring principals in the area.

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Keene, New Hampshire 03435