Valdosta Daily Times

January 31, 2013

Wiregrass to train a new kind of teacher

Brittany D. McClure
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — South Georgia education representatives met Wednesday at Wiregrass Georgia Technical College to announce the launch of a new program called Georgia Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy.

“We are the first college to do this,” said April McDuffie, associate provost and GaTAPP coordinator at Wiregrass. “We started work in November 2011 and we were approved this November.”

GaTAPP is an alternative certification program offered for individuals who desire to become educators and already have an existing degree in a field other than education.

“We are approved to do any of the certifications,” said McDuffie.

The program is not intended to replace traditional college teaching programs, but is an alternative pathway to obtain teacher certification for those who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, but have not completed an educator preparation course of study.

“It’s just a perfect partnership,” said McDuffie.

This program will help fill gaps in teacher shortages across the state in not only vocational subjects such as construction or automotive, but also in more core educational subjects such as math and

science.

“The hardest thing to find in Cook County is high school math and science teachers,” said GaTAPP committee member and Cook County Schools Superintendent Lance  Heard.

While Heard stated that the program is strenuous and takes a lot of dedication, it will open up more avenues for hiring teachers because they can bring in someone to teach while they obtain their certification at the same time.

Lynne Wilson, GaTAPP committee member and media director for Lowndes County Schools, said GaTAPP will give school systems in Georgia the ability to hire more people with industry experience.

“We find that teachers that come out of industry bring great experience to the classroom,” said Wilson.

To be recommend for a Georgia Clear Renewable Certification or the Technical Specialist Teaching Certificate, GaTAPP candidates must complete the following:

— A two-week summer course: Essentials of Effective Teaching.

— Seminars as required by Candidate Support Team.

— Effectively meet all dispositions and required competencies of a highly effective teacher as evaluated/monitored by CST.

— Collect and produce evidence for an electronic achievement portfolio.

— All coursework required to meet Georgia Special Requirements including exceptionalities and teaching of reading.

— Successfully teach as the lead instructor of a P-12 classroom during the program.

Program candidates will have one to three years to complete the rigorous program through Wiregrass.

GaTAPP is just one more facet of Wiregrass’ mission of not just graduating students who are experts in their field, but students who are prepared to immediately enter a needy workforce.

“We just are excited about approving another alternative to teacher certification,” said Wiregrass President Dr. Ray Perren.

Wiregrass launched their GaTAPP website, www.wiregrass.edu/academics/gatapp.php, on Wednesday and will start the program in July.