Professionals with real-world experience get faster path to teach - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Professionals with real-world experience get faster path to teach

Professionals with real-world experience in subjects like math, science and foreign language will have an easier time of jumping into the classroom as part of a new state teaching program. Teach Tennessee aims to attract scientists, mathematicians and engineers to hard-to-fill positions by allowing them to bypass the traditional program and become teachers in a shorter period of time. "We are looking for professionals to move from the top of their fields to the head of the classroom," Gov. Phil Bredesen said. "I'm sure there are many people who have served well in their careers and now want to give something back to their community by teaching our children, bringing with them a wealth of real-world applications." All eligible candidates- who may begin teaching in middle and high school classrooms as soon as this fall - must have a bachelor's degree, at least 24 college hours in the field they want to teach and five or more years of related experience. They also must pass screening tests and a criminal background check. More than 500 people have called the state Department of Education to inquire about the new program, which was approved last week by the State Board of Education. The program is not meant to replace traditional teacher-preparation programs, which usually take four to five years. It's not designed to give potential teachers a quicker route into elementary schools or easier-to-fill subject areas like English or social studies. "It's just meant to address some critical shortages we have with qualified people," said State Education Commissioner Lana Seivers. "We know that the best teachers are the ones who have strong content knowledge." The state Education Department will provide two weeks of training this summer and help each accepted candidate develop a customized plan for completing any other training needed to become a fully certified teacher in about three years. Johnny Chandler, principal of Dickson Middle School, said the new program will be good for schools and people with a lot of professional experience who want to be teachers but don't want to go back to college. "We have a hard time getting math and science teachers," said Chandler. "If they have expertise in a subject area and the ability to teach, it'd be great."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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