Mcdaniel To Train Teachers From India

December 01, 2009|By Arin Gencer | Arin Gencer,arin.gencer@baltsun.com

A new McDaniel College partnership aims to give aspiring teachers in India a chance to earn a master's in education, as well as their teaching certification, on the Westminster campus.

The partnership, with Mar Athanasios College for Advanced Studies in Kerala, India, would bring people who already have degrees in math or the sciences - and an interest in teaching - to McDaniel for "an accelerated and intensive" one-year version of its graduate education program, said Henry Reiff, dean of graduate and professional studies.

"We certainly have a lot of confidence that there is a real interest in India to take advantage of this program," said Reiff, adding that the students' training also would be in demand in India.

The program was also designed with American needs in mind. Math and science, particularly at the secondary level, are among critical shortage areas for teachers in Maryland and the nation, and the state brings in a greater number of new teachers in those subjects than it produces each year, Reiff said.

The ways in which school districts end up filling some positions - seeking career-changers from the professional world or teachers trained abroad - "leave some big gaps in terms of teacher preparation," Reiff said. "That's what we're committed to doing.

"It's clear that this need exists in Maryland and, again, in many states," Reiff said, though he added that the program does not guarantee employment here. "The ramifications are not just about having teachers in high school, but preparing students to go to college and major in those areas," ultimately filling jobs.

The idea for the program emerged late last year, when a consultant from India, Varghese Keerikatte, contacted the college to discuss several possible educational partnerships, Reiff said. It is unclear whether other colleges have a program like McDaniel's. In 2004, Towson University launched a graduate program in secondary education for teachers in Shanghai, China, part of which involves faculty members traveling there to teach during summers, said Stuart Zang, a spokesman.

Applications for McDaniel's program are still coming in, and the first group of students, who could come from various fully accredited Indian universities, is expected to start at the college in January, Reiff said. Earlier this month, accepted students began a program at Mar Athanasios College to help familiarize them with American English, and prepare them for the realities of working with U.S. students and for a standardized test teachers must take, called the PRAXIS, Reiff said.

The college could have two or more cohorts of 15 to 25 people each year, he added, but could start with about 10 or possibly fewer participants for the first round.

Donald A. Peccia, assistant superintendent for human resources for Baltimore County schools, said he thinks the program is "an admirable effort." While Baltimore County hasn't had trouble filling positions in areas such as math or science, it is an exception among districts, he added. And although the recent drop in departures among current teachers, likely because of the troubled economy, could mean fewer jobs for new graduates in the short term, Peccia said, "the more people who can get degrees in those particular areas, I think the long-term effect will be a plus."

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