New UM certification path will help stem teacher shortages
Exacerbated by the pandemic, the severe shortage of teachers is becoming a major obstacle to keeping schools open in Michigan. A newly expanded University of Michigan program offers an alternative route to teacher certification to help alleviate the teacher shortage while ensuring the development of quality educators.
Michigan Alternative Route to Certification at UM is expanding its curriculum and creating the initial certification path to serve aspiring educators with a bachelor’s degree in any subject throughout Michigan. Incoming applicants will not need prior teacher certification.
With this new offering, M-ARC builds on its success in preparing and certifying approximately 230 teachers over the past 12 years, positively affecting the lives of students throughout the Detroit metro area. The program began as a partnership with Teach For America-Detroit providing the Teacher Preparation Program for members of its corps to hold the certification required to teach in Michigan schools.
“This new course is open (M-ARC) to anyone with a baccalaureate and who can pass the certification tests to become a teacher,” said M-ARC associate director Jean Mrachko. “Instead of just working with a specific group of teachers in a small set of schools, all based in the Detroit area, we are now able to work with teachers from across the state. Plus, they’ll be in classrooms this fall.
Flexibility is another benefit of the new alternative route, Mrachko added.
“We wanted to make sure we served the whole state. New teachers will be able to work at any school they choose rather than Teach for America telling them which school they should go to,” she said. “You want to be a teacher and there is a specific area (in Michigan) that you want to teach; you will have this opportunity.
Since 2010, M-ARC has prepared teachers to develop high quality, equitable and socially just educational opportunities for all students. The program merges the UM School of Education’s 100 years of experience preparing teachers using practice-based approaches with the flexibility of alternative routes to help educators learn while they teach.
M-ARC also offers the Supplemental Approval Pathway, through which experienced educators can become certified in additional content areas without leaving the classroom. It addresses the teacher shortage by providing more flexibility to existing teaching staff in schools and districts.
Born and raised in Detroit, Mojoko Esu graduated from Howard University in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Then she accepted the opportunity to join TFA and was part of the M-ARC program; she is currently a sixth grade teacher at the Brenda Scott Academy for Theater Arts in Detroit.
“Programs of this nature and caliber are more important than ever,” Esu said. “Teacher shortages were rampant before the pandemic and vacancies have continued to grow at an exponential rate across the state ever since. All children deserve a comprehensive education delivered by quality educators who have the passion, the proper training, and the tools to be highly effective.
“M-ARC helps make this possible by providing diverse tools and ongoing education to those who may not have taken the traditional path of teaching but have a passion for serving students and families now. “
In this program, candidates begin with a pre-initiation period that includes self-paced online courses – lasting an average of five months – and summer internship experience working with children in an educational setting. .
After completing the pre-employment orientation, candidates can begin teaching under a Michigan Provisional Teaching Certificate. Then, during their first three years in the classroom, they will receive ongoing, practice-focused, content-specific preparation and development to earn their Michigan Standard Teaching Certificate.
“What stands out about this alternative path is the three years of support,” said Karen Young, M-ARC program manager. “During teacher training, we don’t just sit in the background while you teach. We are there with you, in partnership in your classroom.
For many participants, an alternative path to the certification program allows for career change and the opportunity to bring broad real-life experiences into the classroom.
High school counselor David Vidal-Jones, who teaches Hispanic culture and languages, moved from middle school to high school. M-ARC helped him achieve the certification goal, expanding his range of education, he said.
“Professionals and graduates inspired by the call of teaching need a program that meets their needs and realities as Michiganders,” he said. “M-ARC provides this and expanding the program to younger generations of graduate professionals will fill the teacher gap, as new teachers will learn and mature in the classroom, learning by experiencing hands-on teaching every day.”
For Brennah Donahue, third grade teacher at Escuela Avancemos! Academy in Southwest Detroit, this program invites people who may not have originally considered education as a career to get involved.
“As well as allowing individuals to enter the teaching field, bringing with them unique strengths as they come from diverse backgrounds, the program is a timely asset that can be part of a creative solution to address shortage of teachers,” she said.
Applicants can apply directly through the M-ARC website or request information by emailing [email protected]