(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., May 24, 2017) — Twenty students in the Scottsdale Teacher Education Partnership (STEP) received their completion certificates Wednesday, May 24, at Scottsdale Community College. They became the 15th cohort of students to go through the program.
STEP is designed for persons who want to teach elementary or middle school students and who already have a bachelor’s degree. STEP students spent the last year gaining teaching experiences with a field-based approach. It included internships and volunteer assignments, along with classroom work.
Most, if not all, the certificate holders will be teaching in public schools this fall.
“Every one of these candidates expressed to me that they needed to make a difference and that’s why they wanted to go into teaching,” said Mary Ellertson, STEP program director.
During the past year, each student completed more than 300 hours of internships, 12 weeks of teaching and spent Monday and Tuesday evenings doing in-class work.
By the end of the program, students earned teacher certification courses credits and are well prepared for the Arizona Education Teacher Exams.
“My goal is to be a junior high math teacher,” said Jennifer Koval, who already has her undergraduate degree and a master’s of business administration. “This program is helping me reach my goal.”
STEP is designed to honor the life experiences of prospective teachers as it helps them land a teaching job at these grade levels. The one-year program is approved by the Arizona State Board of Education.
Certificate earners are immersed in school classrooms during the fall and spring as interns and volunteers, working side by side with master teachers.
STEP students also take courses taught by professional educators well versed in what it takes to be a successful teacher.
The internship experience and career guidance usually leads to teaching jobs and greater teacher retention rates once they start teaching, says Ellertson.
The students also develop bonds among each other that last well beyond the STEP experience. “They stay together once they are out in the field and support each other,” said Ellertson.
STEP student Melissa Licudine plans to teach first- or third-graders. “The staff was incredibly helpful and insightful,” she said. “Their thoughts and comments influenced us and gave us realistic view of what to expect.”