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The post-baccalaureate program was developed to meet the demand of increased openings for teachers in technical education from Early Childhood through grade 12. Educational practice and theory courses will be offered through UW-Parkside, which is partnering with technical colleges, including Gateway Technical College, to identify courses that meet required technology competencies. Technology courses not offered through UW-Parkside need to be completed at a technical college.
When applying to the program, students can save time and money by having an assessment of their prior learning experiences completed. Past work, educational and military experiences will be examined to determine if they meet course competencies. For those on an emergency license, UW-Parkside will collaborate with school districts to provide an accelerated on-the-job program.
Erik Wolbach, who is currently enrolled in the program, teaches at South Milwaukee High School as a tech-ed teacher on an emergency license. He is certified in physics, math and physical science and wanted to add this additional licensure to fulfill requirements for his current position. "Parkside is unique because it gave me credit for my industry, military and prior teaching experience," Wolbach said. "I enjoyed the streamlined program; it sticks to the important aspects about being an educator."
Aside from this being a time- and money-saving program for Wolbach, he also feels that the course work is immediately relevant to the work he is doing in the classroom. "As a tech-ed teacher, I get to build and create every day," he said. "This morning I was working with students to pour concrete to fill forms for the foundation of a model house and this afternoon I was working with my students to build electric guitars."
Why is the demand for tech-ed teachers growing so quickly? There has been an increase in numbers of students. More than two-thirds of Wisconsin high-school students (approximately 90,000) are taking Career and Technical Education courses. At the same time, due in part to the growing number of teacher retirements, there has been a decrease in the number courses offered. Combine those elements with a reduction in licensure programs preparing technology and pre-engineering educators and the result is an unprecedented demand for tech-ed teachers.
UW-Parkside created the new program – the only post-baccalaureate licensure program in Wisconsin – as a solution to fill these vacancies. It was developed with working adults in mind by offering flexible course times on nights, weekends and over the summer, and with options including online and blended formats. "This is the best option I've found for a licensure program," Wolbach said, "especially if you are already working."