Becoming a teacher in your favorite subject is now more accessible than ever at the UNM College of Education & Human Sciences (COEHS).
In part of its never-ending commitment to fill New Mexico’s dire teacher shortage, COEHS is launching a new graduate certificate in the Teacher Education, Educational Leadership and Policy Department. The graduate certificate is for those with bachelor's and/or master’s degrees already, who want to earn teacher licensure.
That way, Professor Marjori Krebs says, those looking to teach don’t have to go through an entire master’s program to earn that license.
“Let's say you worked at Sandia Labs. You want to be a teacher. Well, you have three master's degrees and a Ph.D. so you don't want a master's. You just want to teach, so you take the licensure courses and then never complete the MA. Now you complete the licensure requirements and apply for the license,” she said.
The 21-hour certificate also serves current UNM graduate students in areas outside education who want to teach middle and high school, but may not want to attempt two master’s degree programs at the same time.
“It helps us recruit people who already have master's degrees,” Krebs said. “It streamlines the coursework for someone from the outside looking in internally. It's really helpful because a students already in a master's degree program can add a certificate to their current program.”
COEHS has had success with its similar graduate certificate, which exists to give licensure for teachers wanting to teach in grades K-8 at the elementary or middle school levels.
It’s good news for students who are already in a similar master’s program or applying to one within COEHS. Credits and applications will transfer over to the certificate smoothly. It’s just as smooth for someone starting from scratch.
“This gives the ability to reach out to potential teachers who haven't really thought about teaching before, who aren't ready to think about a master's degree at this point, but just want to be a teacher who already have a degree in something else,” Krebs said. “They've always wanted to be a teacher. This is a two semester pathway for them to meet their goals.”
The implications of this new certificate are huge for classrooms. Krebs expects this straight licensure pathway to improve recruitment, and fill the need for secondary mathematics and science teachers. That’s part of the reason it got a stamp of approval from the Department of Higher Education.
“It really helps us recruit graduate students who are in Arts & Sciences, or who are fluent in other languages, specifically our high need areas, math and science and bilingual teachers. It helps us recruit those people who are skilled in the content and just want the licensure piece,” she said.
You may remember it was just over a year ago that the National Guard was deployed into New Mexico classrooms to fill the severe teacher shortage leftover from the pandemic. Although the state has issued over 1,000 licenses since then, schools are still playing catch up.
“I'm really most excited for our students in New Mexico, so that they can have fully licensed teachers in their secondary content classes, especially math and science,” Krebs said. “Right now, some students have long term subs for their whole year of Algebra Two or their whole year of biology, and that's a disservice to our kids.”
She also hopes retirees consider a part-time step towards the next generation, by considering taking up the mantle.
“This enables us to talk to those Sandia Labs retirees, for example, with chemistry backgrounds who want their retirement from Sandia Labs, but they're not quite ready to finish working and feel like they have something to offer to kids. It packages the licensure in a way that it's easy to understand,” she said.
It’s important to note, Krebs says, that a lot will be learned in those hours. Becoming a teacher is not just a quick test, but acquiring the knowledge on how to best express your knowledge to bright-eyed students.
“You can't just be a creative writing major and never have taken Shakespeare and or American Literature and step in and teach high school,” she said. “Just because I know how to drive a car doesn't mean I can be a car mechanic. Just because you've been to school, does it mean you can be a teacher and do it well?”
Students can officially start enrolling in summer 2023. Learn more about how to apply and credit transfers at the College of Education & Human Sciences.