George Mason Joins State Career Switcher Program

Posted: July 24, 2002 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Elena Barbre

The Virginia Department of Education’s Career Switcher program is now available at George Mason. The program offers professionals in other fields an opportunity to begin a new career as a classroom teacher without having to enroll in a traditional teacher preparation program. Mason’s program prepares experienced professionals for licensure as secondary school teachers with endorsements in biology, chemistry, earth science, English, history/social science, mathematics, or physics.

“We recognize the critical shortage of teachers, the existence of a pool of experienced career changers, and the need to prepare them for classrooms as quickly as possible while maintaining a quality curriculum and closely mentored teaching experiences,” says Linda Hanrahan, program coordinator for secondary education in the Graduate School of Education (GSE) and coordinator of George Mason’s Career Switcher program. “Too often, career changers enter public school classrooms without any preparation for the challenges and complexities of teaching.”

The Career Switcher program is more streamlined than GSE’s regular teacher licensure program, but it has similar characteristics, says Bonnie Anderson, GSE director of program compliance and development.

To qualify for the program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and five years of experience, meet the state’s requirements for their desired teaching area, and pass the Praxis I and II assessments for beginning teachers. The next step is a preparation program that includes 180 hours of classroom instruction and field experience. After successful completion of the first preparation phase, participants are awarded a one-year eligibility license to teach in Virginia public schools.

In partnership with the Arlington and Fairfax County Public Schools, each successful Career Switcher will then be interviewed, but without the promise of employment. Those who are hired as first-year teachers will register for a supervised university internship and be paired with

a trained mentor selected from a cadre of local retired teachers who will provide support in the areas of planning, teaching methodology, and classroom management. After a one-year trial period, Career Switchers become eligible to receive the regular five-year, renewable license.

GSE will offer Career Switcher courses in the spring and summer of 2003. For more information, visit the GSE web site or contact Hanrahan at (703) 993-3823 or lhanraha@gmu.edu.

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