The Teacher Education Program (TEP) at the College of the Holy Cross will debut a new program that will allow students enrolled in the TEP to complete their student teaching requirement in a “Ninth Semester Option.”
“This program is a way of increasing our capacity to prepare highly qualified teachers for our nation’s schools,” explains Danuta Bukatko, chair of the education department at the College. “Our focus on preparing students who are experts in their content areas and also wellversed in issues of social justice and urban education is consistent with the Jesuit and liberal arts mission of the College.”
The Ninth Semester Option will consist of a supervised student teaching experience at one of the Worcester Public Schools at the middle or secondary level and a seminar on teaching.
“The Ninth Semester Option increases access to the Teacher Education Program for students who otherwise might not be able to complete the requirements,” says Heather Johnson, director of the Teacher Education Program. “We want to attract outstanding, well-rounded, passionate students to consider teaching.”
Typically, the student teaching experience takes place during the fall or spring semester of a student’s senior year. The Ninth Semester Option will focus on students who have completed all of the other requirements for the TEP, but who are unable to free up a full semester for the student teaching component. These students include “late-deciders” who realize during their junior year (or later) that they wish to pursue a profession in teaching; student athletes, who often have many characteristics that translate well to teaching, but have sports schedules that are very difficult to manage during the practicum semester; mathematics and science majors who must complete a sequence of upper level courses that may include laboratories or that are two-semesters in duration; and foreign language majors who participate in the Study Abroad program.
These students frequently run out of time to complete the TEP requirements due to opportunities to participate in research, departmental thesis work, and honors thesis work, explains Johnson. “We have seen students give up opportunities to participate in these important academic endeavors so they can complete the TEP,” she shares. “The Ninth Semester Option is a way to encourage students to consider teaching without giving up other important academic opportunities at the College that contribute to their development as highly competent teachers.”
The completion of the TEP allows students to obtain an initial five-year license to teach in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (with reciprocity with other states), as long as that student passes the appropriate Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure. Currently, the TEP accepts up to 20 students per year, and anticipates offering the new program for up to 10 students per year, so that the total number of students in the group remains at 20.
The Ninth Semester Option will cost approximately $2,300, and will be available only in the fall semester and only in the semester following the student’s graduation from Holy Cross. Students will not be offered housing on campus. The first Ninth Semester Option is expected to start in the fall of 2014.
“One of the most important things for us is to keep the cost of this program option low,” says Bukatko. “We want to demonstrate that Holy Cross is committed to doing whatever we can to bring highly qualified, justice-seeking educators to our schools.”
While Holy Cross has been educating and preparing students to be teachers since the early 1900s, the Teacher Education Program at the College was started in 1996. More than 150 students have graduated from the program with their teaching credentials.