The following is an excerpt from a column by University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch. This column appeared in The State Journal-Register on Saturday, October 8, 2016.
"The hours may be long, the salary modest and the “customers” sometimes challenging, but according to the National Center for Education Statistics, earning a bachelor’s degree in education and becoming a teacher is still among the top choices made by college students in the U.S. today.
Every year, nearly 200,000 candidates graduate from teacher preparation programs across the country, each of whom aspires to help young minds grow and reach their full potential.
According to the Illinois State Board of Education, there are 77 approved teacher education institutions in Illinois.
The University of Illinois Springfield is one of them, and Dr. Cindy Wilson, chair of the Teacher Education Department, is enthusiastic about recent growth of the program.
“Students are attracted to the UIS teacher education program for several reasons,” she says. “We take a team approach to supporting our students, providing individualized attention beginning when students declare their major and continuing through their student-teaching experience and job placement.”
According to Dr. Wilson, students who enroll in teacher education come from many walks of life, with about 30 percent being non-traditional aged.
It’s not unusual for a teacher education student to have already earned a bachelor’s degree in some other area or to have had a career in another profession.
For such students, a post-bachelor’s teacher licensure program is available, offering credit for prior educational experience while at the same time providing the necessary sequence of courses needed to acquire a teaching license for Illinois.
The introductory sequence is offered both on campus and online, further enabling working adults to participate.
Dr. Hanfu Mi, UIS dean of Education and Human Services, is particularly proud of UIS students’ performance on the edTPA exam, an assessment used to verify an aspiring teacher’s readiness to succeed in the classroom that is required for teacher licensure.
“UIS students consistently score well above the state’s average,” he reports, “with 100 percent of UIS students who attempted the exam passing it last year.”
“We currently have more than 50 agreements with local school districts that provide opportunities for our students to observe and participate in hands-on experiences, including student-teaching,” says Mi. “Area superintendents speak highly of UIS graduates.”
Read the entire column online.