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New program to help valley `grow own’ crop of teachers

Special to the Post Independent

Beginning in just a few short weeks, high school graduates will be able to pursue a career in education without ever having to go far from their homes in Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin counties for coursework or fieldwork.

Colorado Mountain College and Mesa State College have teamed up to offer an exciting new program that will prepare individuals to instruct our valley’s young minds of the future. The program is referred to as the 2 + 2 program. Students begin the first half of their studies by enrolling in CMC and completing the two-year General Studies degree in Elementary Education.

In addition to coursework, students will also be required to complete 100 hours of volunteer, hands-on work with children in public or private schools or through other youth-oriented community organizations.

For the second half of the program, students complete coursework through Mesa State College at CMC’s Roaring Fork Campus.

According to Ed Bouchard, Spring Valley Student Services counselor, “The Mesa courses will be either live lectures, microwave transmission interactive courses, or telecourses, but all of them will all be available at the Roaring Fork Campus. Then when students are ready to do their fieldwork, they will student-teach in one of the local schools.”

Graduates of the program will earn both an associate’s degree in General Studies from CMC and a bachelor of arts degree in Liberal Studies with an Elementary Education Emphasis from Mesa State College.

“We are growing our own, said Debra Winston, director of the Teacher Education Partnership with CMC. “This program gives people an opportunity to serve the community where they grew up. Too often teachers are imported from the Eastern Slope, and when they get here, they are often unprepared for the economics of living here or they don’t have a vested interest in the community.

“As a result our school districts have a high teacher turnover rate. The 2+2 program hopes to mitigate that by growing our own teachers and keeping bright young minds here where they can make a difference in the lives of children and the community.”

The 2+2 program is a challenging one that thoroughly prepares teachers to meet or exceed performance-based standards for the state of Colorado.

“The state requires that we prepare students in specific areas including literacy, mathematics, classroom and instructional management, and technology to name a few. It’s a very rigorous program that focuses on excellence. We are looking for individuals with high academic standards,” said Winston.

In addition to meeting state requirements, students will also be prepared to meet the needs of increasingly diverse communities.

“Not only will students be very well prepped in the areas of academics and technology, they’ll also gain experience working with diverse populations including non-English speaking and special needs populations,” explained Dr. Lawrence Baines, associate vice president for Academic Affairs at Mesa State College.

For more information about the 2+2 program, contact Winston at 384-8531.


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