Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Going Online with MARCO: Maryland Initiative Expedites Certification Process for New Teachers. (Tech Talk)

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Going Online with MARCO: Maryland Initiative Expedites Certification Process for New Teachers. (Tech Talk)

Article excerpt

When Troy and Sharon Anderson of Bowie, Md., decided to leave behind corporate jobs to become public school teachers, they found little comfort in the prospect of having to spend a year or two taking education courses to gain teacher certification. For the Andersons, knowing they could get into the classroom as quickly as possible would ease the logistical and financial challenges of changing careers.

Last fall, the couple had the fortune of meeting Dr. Brenda Conley, the department chair of education programs at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) graduate school. Conley, who was in the midst of launching an online education program aimed at speeding up the teaching certification process for people making a career change, persuaded the Andersons to sign up for her program. The initiative, formally launched in January, is the inaugural program of Maryland's Alternative Routes to Certification Options, or MARCO, and will get the couple and 34 other teaching candidates into classrooms in Maryland's Prince George's County school system by fall 2003.

"This has been a blessing," Sharon Anderson says of MARCO's fast--track approach to teacher certification.

Since late January, Anderson, her husband and the others have been in a 14-week long online course offered by UMUC that will grant them nine credit hours towards their teaching certification, and the credits can be applied towards a master's degree in education or the master's of teaching degree. This summer, the teaching candidates will undergo a teaching internship program that will last five weeks and prepare them for a fall teaching assignment.

"It's been grueling. We've been working quite hard," says Troy Anderson of the workload he balances while continuing to hold down a managerial position with the Xerox Corp.

Sharon Anderson, who was hit by corporate layoffs last summer while in a financial analyst's position, has gotten a jump start in the classroom this school year by working as a long-term substitute teacher in the Prince George's County schools. The accomplishment of getting children to learn has already outweighed the lucrative rewards of corporate employment, according to Anderson, who along with her husband are raising a four-year-old daughter.

"You can reach a point in life where you really want to make a difference in the lives of other people. Teaching lets me do that," she says.

UMUC has established MARCO in partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education's Division of Certification and Accreditation. The flint rollout of the program, MARCO-Prince George's, offers a streamlined variation of the Resident Teacher Certification (RTC) program that operates in three Maryland jurisdictions--Prince George's County, Howard County and Baltimore city.

Maryland state education, UMUC and University of Maryland Baltimore County officials have launched MARCO-Prince George's through a five-year, $1. …

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