Starting this month, aspiring and continuing teachers could take a significant step toward becoming -- or remaining -- full-fledged educators, through a fast-track program at Carroll Community College.
The summer classes enable teachers to come closer to state Department of Education certification in less time. Students would still have to pass required exams and fulfill other certification criteria.
The program caters to career changers who need certification to teach, educators looking to maintain their certification or "conditional" teachers, who are hired with content-area degrees, contingent on their certification, said Libby Little, chair of teacher education and academic services at the college.
"We just do it in a more condensed format," Little said. "It's still more expedient than, say, the traditional freshman or sophomore who's coming in and takes the entire 15-week semester."
This summer's courses -- some online or a "hybrid" of class and Internet time -- include educational psychology, secondary methods and human development. Additional classes are scheduled for the fall and spring terms.
Libby said the college offers classes that are generally needed, though some people won't need each course.
Because it is flexible and affordable, the community college program works well for teachers who have advanced degrees and want to complete the necessary course work for certification, said Susan Sies, an associate education professor who plans to teach educational psychology as an online course this summer.
"People are very satisfied with the courses," Sies said.
With a teacher shortage in the United States and beyond, a larger pool of possible instructors is expected to be of use.
"We're excited that they do this fast-tracking because it leads potential teachers to being highly qualified in a very efficient way," said Jimmie Saylor, director of human resources for county schools. "It's a benefit to them, and then, in the end, it's a benefit to us because they have the qualifications they need to meet those state and federal requirements."
The community college program is one of several options that Clyde Sterner, a district human resources specialist, mentions to employees hired on a conditional basis.
"If their goal is to get course work done and get certified as quickly as they can, I can head them off in that direction," Sterner said.
The community college program has been "extremely supportive and helpful" for some of the conditional teachers, he added.
Aspiring teachers also could study at Towson University, McDaniel College or Loyola College and other schools, he said.
About a third of those who need the courses take advantage of the fast-track program, Sterner said.