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STEM, Early Childhood Programs Expand with New Route to Teacher Certification

Beginning this summer, the University of Kentucky College of Education is expanding options for those who want to change careers to teach in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and early childhood. 

The Kentucky Professional Education Standards Board’s university-based alternative pathway to certification, known as Option 6, allows qualified teacher candidates to work in a full-time teaching position within a Kentucky school while enrolled in a participating teacher preparation program. Through this option, teacher candidates obtain a temporary provisional certificate valid for one year. The provisional certificate must be renewed each year, up to a total of five years. Upon successful completion of the program, graduates are eligible to apply for a Kentucky teaching certificate. 

“We know that in our state and nationally, there is a great need for teachers,” said College of Education Senior Associate Dean of Academic Programs and Partnerships Margaret Mohr-Schroeder, Ph.D. “The teaching shortage is felt at every level, but especially in the STEM subjects, as well as for our youngest students in early childhood classrooms.” 

The Option 6 pathways in the STEM Education Master of Arts in Teaching and the Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education graduate-level initial certification programs are designed to be completed part-time over approximately two years. Both programs are for people who already have at least a bachelor’s degree. For the STEM program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent coursework in the field in which they wish to teach. 

“We’re excited to remove barriers through alternative pathways that are focused on providing high-quality instruction to students in Kentucky schools,” said Jennifer Grisham, Ed.D., professor and program chair in the Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education program and faculty director of the Early Childhood Laboratory school at the College of Education. 

Mohr-Schroeder, who is also president of the School Science and Mathematics Association, an international STEM organization, said that people with expertise in a subject area and who are motivated to teach may find it difficult to stop working to complete a certification program. This option allows them to move directly into the classroom, gaining immediate experience while earning a salary, alongside taking coursework and receiving guidance from experienced faculty. 

“This helps to bridge that gap between supporting our community while also supporting the new teacher with tools they will need to be effective in the classroom,” Mohr-Schroeder said. 

To learn more about these programs and apply, visit: 

Early Childhood: https://education.uky.edu/edsrc/iece/gradcert/  
Contact Jennifer Grisham, jennifer.grisham-brown@uky.edu 

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