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Teacher certification program to begin next fall

Teacher certification program to begin next fall

October 26, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - Aspiring teachers soon will be able to pursue their degrees downtown, as the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown expands its offerings next year.

"We hope that all the people that come here will find the joy and the love of working with children," early childhood education professor Thomas Palardy said Wednesday during a press conference at the West Washington Street center.

The students would earn certifications to teach children in grades kindergarten through three, said Kenneth Witmer, interim dean for the College of Education at Frostburg State University.

With a new bachelor's degree program beginning next fall, prospective teachers will be able to pursue their educations without leaving Washington County. Frostburg will begin undergraduate early-childhood education classes at USM-Hagerstown next fall.

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The downtown university center already offers master's programs in education. Frostburg will work with Frederick and Hagerstown community colleges to help students who have earned associate degrees transfer easily to the downtown campus, Palardy said.

The first class, a group of 16 to 24 students who would take classes and complete field experiences on the same schedule, would finish the program in two years, said Kim Rotruck, regional coordinator of education programs for Frostburg.

A 1996 Hagerstown Community College graduate, Christina Whitlock, of Waynesboro, Pa., said she is looking to get her bachelor's degree. She and coworker Kelly Jones, of Hagerstown, studied brochures at the downtown center shortly after the announcement.

"With us working, we still have to work and go to school, and it takes time," said Jones, who like Whitlock works as a teacher at a day-care center for children of Citicorp employees. The women said the Family Center requires they earn bachelor's degrees by 2016.

Washington County Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan, who spoke at the press conference, said the university center's announcement came at the right time. According to Morgan, the school system, which she said is committed to small class sizes, has had trouble finding elementary school teachers.

"I think many of you know that Washington County Public Schools is growing by leaps and bounds," Morgan said.

With new schools planned, the system will be adding classrooms, which means it will need more teachers, she said.

Beside satisfying her workplace's requirement, Jones said she believes additional education could help her.

"Maybe we could, after we get these degrees, we could look into going into public school," said Jones, who anticipated a degree might bring more money.

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