Transition to Teaching Program Offers Alternative Route to Teacher Certification

November 19, 2009

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – When Adam Osborne graduated from Marshall University with a chemistry degree in 2003, he was on track to become a physician. But after a stint as a pharmacy technician and two years of medical school, he knew being a doctor was not his true calling.
Today, with the help of the West Virginia Department of Education’s Transition to Teaching program, Osborn shares his love for chemistry and physics with students at Gilmer County High School. 
Designed to attract new teachers to the classroom through alternative certification, Osborne is one of Transition to Teaching’s first success stories. This week he will share his innovative teaching strategies at the West Virginia Science Teachers Association Annual Conference Thursday through Saturday at Glade Springs Resort, a major accomplishment for second year teacher.
“He is the epitome of the 21st century teacher,” said Teresa Epperley with the Transition to Teaching program. “He appeals to students’ higher ordered thinking through the use of many hands-on activities and implementation of technology. It is this combination of content knowledge and innovative instructional strategies that have gained the attention of his peers.”
The Transition to Teaching program, funded with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, is a collaborative effort between the West Virginia Department of Education and Marshall and West Virginia universities. The goal is to prepare 30 teachers a year for the next five years in critical shortage areas, such as math or science. Participants must already have a bachelor’s degree in critical shortage area.
With about a quarter of West Virginia’s 24,000 educators eligible for retirement within the next year, programs that offer alternative routes to certification are important to attracting new teachers.
“Educators and policymakers are continually searching for new ways to recruit and retain excellent public school teachers,” said state Superintendent Steve Paine. “West Virginia has a highly experienced teaching corps that will be difficult to replace as more and more teachers retire. Alternative teacher certification is but one way to address the growing teacher shortage across the state.”
Alternative certification is attractive to those who have a college degree and have been successful in their careers but want to change jobs or their lifestyle. A significant number of participants in the Transition to Teaching program once worked as engineers, chemists or physicists.
Currently, 45 teachers are participating in the program. Fourteen of those, including Osborne, were in the first cohort last year and have received their teaching license.  The other 31 are in this year’s cohort. Among the 45, there are 18 special education teachers, four English, two Spanish, 11 math and 10 science. 
For more information, contact Teresa Epperley in the Office of Professional Preparation at 304-558-7010, or the Office of Communications at 304-558-2699.

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