For persons around the state still harboring the dream of becoming a teacher but don’t have a teaching degree, the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) is ready to lend a helping hand through a scholarship program provided through a Transition to Teaching Grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The ‘Teach and Inspire’ scholarship program is currently recruiting and preparing persons who have toiled for years in a number of professions and are now ready to tackle the commitment of becoming a teacher. The full scholarship toward ABCTE certification is $975. Candidates for the program are eligible for a $1,000 stipend for completing classroom observations. Information sessions on the program are currently being held around the state until November 7. ABCTE Public Relations Director Michael Holden says the response so far has been stronger in larger towns and cities than in the smaller rural areas. Holden says the programs allows the candidate to work at their own pace.
“The ABCTE teacher certification is accepted for public schools in the state of South Carolina. it takes the candidate about eight to 10 months to complete the program. It’s a self-paced program where the majority of the preparation is done online. the candidates then take two exams, one in the subject they’d like to teach and the other on professional teaching knowledge to make sure they’ve mastered the things hey need to know in order to be an effective teacher.”
ABCTE offers certification in South Carolina for grades 9 through 12 in English, biology, math, general science, physics and chemistry.
Holden says nine states currently accept teachers certified through the program. South Carolina, Florida, and Mississippi are the only three states participating in the scholarship program. Holden says more men and minorities are needed in the teaching profession, but overall ABCTE is looking for persons with a burning desire and passion to teach. “we definitely want to see more men get into teaching. We do have a lot of men go through our program. We also want to see more minority teachers. But we also want to see great teachers and we want people who are enthusiastic about getting into the classroom and making a difference.”
Candidates for the certification program must hold a bachelor’s degree in any subject and pass a background check. Participants must make a three-year commitment to teach in a high need subject and school in South Carolina.
Holden says one of the great benefits of the program is the development of teachers who have practical work experiences related to the subjects they teach and that helps as they are able to point out the relationship to the students of how what they are learning in the classroom may apply in professions they may pursue in the future. “Actually there is a Physics teacher we have in South Carolina and she has a PhD. in Physics and she worked in a laboratory for many years. She transitioned into a teaching career and she says she able to talk all the time to students about what she used in the lab as a physicist and how what they are doing can be applied that type of job in the future for them.”
Holden says the certification program is self-contained which will help candidates map out a strategy for navigating through the program while maintaining their present schedule. “Everything they need to do in order to get their certification can be done through our program. all the resources are online . we have video workshops, refresher courses, and practice tests. We do have people who would go out and get additional reading material to learn a little more to get better prepared for the exams. But they don’t have to take any courses in order to get their certification through us.”
Holden says persons have developed a number of ways to confidently prepare for the certification examination. “The amount of time people spend in preparing for the exams really varies depending on a persons previous knowledge of the subject matter. We’ve had people who have a pretty good grasp of math or the sciences maybe from their current profession or that may be what their degree is in. Some of those people are able to spend less time preparing for the subject exam which gives them more time to invest in preparing for the professional teaching knowledge exam.
Currently 100 ABCTE teacher certificates have been issued in South Carolina, and 257 persons working toward certification. For more information on the program log on to abcte.org.