Stockton College expanding its teacher education programs

Press of Atlantic City, The (NJ) - April 28, 2008

The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey plans to take a larger role in teacher education, consolidating existing programs and adding new ones under new Dean of Education Harvey Kesselman.

Teacher education at Stockton has been a somewhat-fragmented effort. Students who got a degree in their academic major could spend an additional year in teacher training, or get certified through the alternate route. Working teachers could attend workshops at the Educational Technology Training Center, or earn a master's degree in the graduate program.

The college is now poised to organize those programs into a centralized department. Kessel-man plans to make teacher education a core mission of the college for both aspiring and working teachers.

"We are now in a new standards-based environment for education," said Kesselman, who turned the original Atlantic County Educational Technology Training Center at the college into a regional institute for teacher training in southern New Jersey. "The goal is to improve student outcomes, and we have to prepare both current and future teachers for how to do that."

The state Department of Edu-cation has promoted ongoing teacher training for years. But for working teachers in the southernmost part of the state, options have been limited by travel distances. Stockton moved the ETTC center to Mays Landing and also is looking at sites in Hammonton that would both add more room for programs and make them more accessible to more people.

Among Kesselman's goals are developing a four-year teaching program for undergraduates and expanding master's degree programs.

"The way we do it now, students get two bachelor's degrees but it takes five years to be a teacher," he said. "But those students also get a lot of course content in their major. We're looking at how to get both in four years."

Kesselman also wants to develop a Teachers as Scholars program that would bring experts to Stockton for a series of in-depth three-day workshops for teachers on specific topics. He already has recruited former Stockton professor and Pulitzer-winning poet Stephen Dunn to lead a workshop.

Kesselman said as a liberal arts college, Stockton has a lot of faculty from different academic areas who can contribute valuable expertise to the education program. The new Master's of Arts in Elementary Edu-cation program will offer a set of core courses, plus a series of electives in science, math, language arts and special education.

"We recognize that elementary school teachers are expected to teach all subjects to all students," Kesselman said. "Teachers want the additional training, and we want teachers who want to be better teachers.

Caption: KESSELMAN (color photo)