Community Colleges are a Valuable Resource for Students Across America

May 1, 2013 by

Delia Stafford
President &CEO
Haberman Educational Foundation,Inc

Rio Salado College (RSC) in Tempe, Arizona, has been an ongoing client of the Haberman Educational Foundation since 2011. RSC trained their education staff and summarily embraced the research based interview and online prescreen tests developed by Dr. Martin Haberman, distinguished professor, Emeritus, University Wisconsin Milwaukee.

This past March, the National Association of Community College Teacher Education Programs (NACCTEP) held their annual national conference in Dallas, Texas, and invited the Haberman Education Foundation to participate. A breakout session of Dr. Haberman’s work was provided in an effort to inform the attendees of the Haberman research as a valuable resource for selecting professors that are responsible for educating the students attending classes at the community colleges.

As a result of the invitation, the Haberman Educational Foundation leaders sponsored the Welcome Reception and shared Room 26, the story of a great Haberman Star Teacher. Publications by Dr. Haberman were also provided to the student volunteers.

The NACCTEP conference was a resounding success with teacher education students attending community colleges participating in educational presentations. National student scholarship recipients were recognized during Saturday breakfast session. Outstanding performances by breakout session speakers along with keynote speakers provided important information to these college professors who work consistently to educate students.

I believe this interview with the NACCTEP leaders is informative and greatly needed as they play a major role in the world of education. Both leaders shared their thoughts and knowledge base for our readers.

Delia Stafford
President &CEO
Haberman Educational Foundation,Inc


Cynthia S. Kelley

Dr. Cynthia S. Kelley is the current NACCTEP president and vice president for academic affairs for Kanawha Valley Community and Technical College in South Charleston, West Virginia. She holds a B.A. in Elementary Education from Glenville State College, a M.A. in Education of Talented and Gifted from West Virginia University, and a Ph.D. C&I Leadership and Supervision from Ohio University. Cynthia’s vision for community college teacher preparation programs are for them to become an even more vital part of the preparation of new teachers than they are now. Because of the affordability of their tuition, community colleges are poised to offer courses and degrees needed to alleviate teacher shortages and to prepare highly qualified teachers. Community colleges touch geographical areas and serve student populations that many other educational institutions do not.

Kimberly Tobey

Kimberly Tobey is the NACCTEP executive director and teacher education director of innovation and initiatives for Rio Salado College in Tempe, Arizona. She holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and Communication and a M.Ed. in Higher Education both from Grand Canyon University. Kimberly has 13 years of experience within the community college system, has assisted in the writing of and received funding for two National Science Foundation grant-funded projects and one Civic Ventures Encore learners project. Additionally, she serves on the board for Arizona Future Educators and has been integral in developing new programs for Rio Salado College’s teacher education program such as alternative path models, and family engagement specialists programs. Kimberly is an advocate for alleviating barriers that may exist for first-generation or high-poverty college students. 

1. Tell us what is happening with community college teacher education programs.

Teacher education programs in community colleges are meeting the need for highly trained teachers across the country. Through a variety of program models community colleges are preparing new teachers in innovative methods. Our colleges are accustomed to offering programs that move nontraditional and/or diverse students through programs in a way that meets the needs of both the student and the workforce community.

2. Most people are aware of the traditional 2+2 program at community colleges. What other types of teacher education programs are offered at community colleges beyond the 2+2?

Nationally, more community colleges are expanding their models to meet the needs of the diverse student populations and communities. Program models vary from offering baccalaureate degrees in teacher education to courses designed for individuals with bachelor’s degrees in other fields through post-baccalaureate programs. Community Colleges also have articulations beyond the traditional 2+2, such as 1+3 and 3+1.  Each program model takes into consideration the needs of the student for cost-effective, flexible options that are high-quality and accredited, but that keep the school debt incurred by the student to a minimum.

3. What types of programs does the “alternative pathway” refer to?

Some community colleges have been approved to offer their own baccalaureate degrees in teacher education. These degrees allow students to move directly from their associate degree into the baccalaureate degree with no transfer necessary. This model offers accessibility to programs for students, as well as meeting the local school systems needs to fill teaching positions.

Community Colleges are offering post-baccalaureate courses that are designed for individuals who have a bachelor’s degreeor higher (in any area) from an accredited university and would like to become a teacher. Teacher candidates must fulfill the requirements for teacher licensure, which vary by state. The post-baccalaureate model allows individuals to bring their industry expertise into the classroom and give back to their communities by preparing our next generation of leaders.

Finally, some community colleges offer true “alternative” post-baccalaureate options that allow for applicants, with prior degrees in other fields, to work full-time in the classroom while completing their certification program. These programs come with enhanced partnerships with local school districts, strong levels of support from teacher education program faculty and supervisors, and high-touch services designed to support the applicant through the process. Many high-need school districts are utilizing the alternative path option for hard-to-fill openings such as math, science, and Special Education. The advantages for the pre-service teacher in this type of program are the opportunities for real-time application of coursework, strong mentor supports, and full-time contract payments and benefits.

4. With the focus on teacher quality and raising academic achievement in our schools, how are community colleges supporting these initiatives?

Community College Teacher Education Programs and the National Association of Community College Teacher Education Programs (NACCTEP) are mindful of the importance of accountability for our classroom teachers in regards to student achievement and therefore our coursework is aligned to national trends around Common Core State Standards, the integration of technology into the classroom, increasing familiarity with math and science instruction, and a myriad of other instructional strategies. It is the goal of our programs to ensure alignment with both state and federal regulations as well as to ensure seamless content transfer into our four-year partner schools. With that said, NACCTEP and our community college programs are also concerned with attracting educators to the profession who display compassion for their students, desire to work collaboratively with parents in setting goals for the classroom, and who have a passion for understanding their students holistically.

5. Why would students choose to enroll in one of these programs at a community college rather than through a traditional university model?

While nationally we continue to focus on the need for students to choose careers in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM), we will only see the gap in these numbers increase if we don’t consider employing high-skilled educators in the classroom. The cost-effective models of the community college teacher education programs make the choice to teach much more palatable by limiting the amount of debt incurred in relation to the annual first-year teaching salary. Community colleges offer greater affordability than teacher education programs in four-year colleges and universities.

Many community college students are place bound. Having the baccalaureate offered at the local community college gives them the opportunity to attain a degree close to home. It allows nontraditional students to continue to work and/or have their family close while completing a degree that will give them greater earning power. Because community college students typically stay within their neighborhoods while working and attending school, community colleges have a strong ability to build community capacity and impact the classrooms within the neighborhoods which our students reside.

6. How is NACCTEP influencing community college teacher education programs?

NACCTEP is an organization that gives faculty and administration of teacher education and early childhood programs a venue to come together and support the growth of community college programs. The organization provides its members with a national perspective on issues related both to teacher education and community colleges. NACCTEP is also the voice of community college teacher preparation and early childhood programs at the national level.  

NACCTEP offers its membership resources related to innovations and best practices. Through its conference and publications member institutions have a wide variety of models and strategies to explore for enhancing the teacher preparation programs.

Community Colleges are an essential piece of the teacher education puzzle. NACCTEP’s members use the same assessment processes as four-year university programs, is well-versed in recruitment and retention methods for a diversified teacher pipeline, and is responsive to changes in education. Our goal is to ensure that community college programs are included in the list of viable options for teacher training and that we are recognized for our role in impacting our communities and meeting their needs training a high-quality teacher workforce.

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