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GSE urges undergraduates to think about teaching


Mon, Aug 8th 2016 12:25 pm

By the University at Buffalo

The Graduate School of Education at the University at Buffalo has one word for college graduates looking to find a career with good job prospects and high job satisfaction, and that at the same time leaves the world a better place: Teaching.

"Teaching is an immensely rewarding career with the potential to shape students' lives and engage with the communities schools serve," said Elisabeth Etopio, interim assistant dean for teacher education in the Graduate School of Education. "Through GSE's Teacher Education Institute, we prepare students who are curious, reflective and able to develop innovative solutions that are both research-based and practically informed."

Despite the positive rewards of a teaching career, there are looming teacher shortages in many areas of the country, according to Jaekyung Lee, professor and GSE dean - a shortage Lee said will reach Western New York within a few years.

What's more, the problems and drawbacks that have discouraged countless students who may have considered a career in teaching - among them low pay, low demand and teacher evaluation systems based on standardized tests that may or may not measure quality education - are changing, Lee said.

This may be the best time to become a teacher in decades, according to Lee and his UB colleagues. And UB's Graduate School of Education is dedicated and equipped to train quality graduates who are positioned to take advantage of this demand for teachers.

GSE develops qualified teachers with its nationally accredited, clinically rich teacher education programs for certification. A teaching certificate from UB means a better chance at landing a good job, Lee said, and local school district administrators who have hired GSE graduates.

Across the country, 46 states have reciprocity agreements with New York through the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification to offer teacher licenses with a New York state certification.

"As a nationally top-ranked education school in a premier research university, GSE is committed to recruiting a more talented and diverse body of students who are interested in a teaching career and educating them to become highly qualified and effective teachers to serve anywhere across the nation," Lee said. "How do we get teacher prospects back?"

Here is the case Lee and his GSE colleagues make for teaching: Promising undergraduates looking for a rewarding career with good job prospects and competitive salaries should consider these developments:

•The education industry is undergoing a shift. Teacher saturation is a thing of the past. There is a shortage now in many areas of the country, a shortage that will hit New York. According to a report by the TeachNY Advisory Council, New York's need for teachers will grow by 5.8 percent by 2022, or an average of 1,700 teachers per year.

•Retirements of baby-boom generation teachers will open up more opportunity for recent teacher graduates.The New York State Department of Labor's long-term occupational employment projections for 2014-24 show steady, modest growth for teachers over that time. Some specialized categories have high growth expectations. The state Labor Department expects jobs for preschool teachers to grow by 7.3 percent in the next eight years. Demand for kindergarten teachers is expected to grow by 4.8 percent. Job opportunities for elementary school teachers are expected to grow by 3.5 percent. National labor projections compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for education, training and library occupations anticipate a projected growth of 7.6 percent by 2024.

•Money for quality students choosing to enter the education field is increasing. TeachNY, a statewide initiative designed to improve the way the state prepares teachers, includes increased financial aid to students studying to be teachers. New York State's Higher Education Services Corp. also has launched New York State's Masters-in-Education Teacher Incentive Scholarship Program to attract new teachers. At the federal level, the U.S. Department of Education's Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH Grant) program provides funds to students planning to enter the teaching field.

•UB's Graduate School of Education offers a content area model that trains a higher-quality teacher who is more marketable and more employable and brings a stronger level of teaching skills into the classroom. And with New York's more rigorous certification process, combined with UB's model/approach to grooming teachers, UB graduates are sought after nationally.

GSE graduates have earned the respect and approval of local school administrators.

"The University at Buffalo is an internationally recognized prestigious university," said John McKenna, principal of Fletcher Elementary School in the Tonawanda City School District, and president of the School Administrators Association of New York State. McKenna earned his doctorate in educational administration from UB in 2008.

"UB grads have an instantaneous advantage over other candidates because of the high quality that UB represents," he said. "A degree from the University at Buffalo is a badge of honor and a true advantage in the workplace and marketplace."

Adam Norris, a social studies teacher at Maryvale High School, recently became one of 10 teachers statewide to receive the inaugural Empire State Excellence in Teaching Award. The award honors Norris for exemplifying the highest professional standards, citing his work to inspire students, instill a love of learning and ensure that school is exciting, motivating and challenging. Norris joined Maryvale in 2006 after receiving a master's degree from UB.

"Adam is a single example that represents the exceptional teachers who earn education degrees at UB," said Deborah Moore-Russo, chair of the department of learning and instruction. "While not all have earned the public recognition that he has, we are proud of our graduates. They could be considered the unsung heroes whose rewards are more typically the respect, admiration and gratitude of students and parents in their communities."

For more information about teacher education opportunities at UB's Graduate School of Education, visit the school's website or contact the GSE Office of Graduate Admissions and Student Services by email or phone at 716-645-2110.

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