Last summer, over 700 Dow employees lost their jobs due to the merging of Dow Chemical and Dow Corning.
For the former Dow employees who had an interest in teaching, the Michigan Department of Education contacted SVSU to create a one-year program that could train someone to become a teacher – the Accelerated Certification with Residency Program.
The program is not widespread, and the way SVSU runs it is unique to the university, which is a large attribute to its current success.
“I am not aware of another program like this in Michigan,” said Acting Assistant Dean of the College of Education Anne Tapp. “SVSU had an accelerated program many years ago, and I taught courses for that program.”
The approval process began last fall, taking until the summer to market, recruit and train people to find placements.
A soft launch was done through social media, word of mouth and a series of informational sessions.
“We had people that came from all over to these (informational sessions),” said Craig Douglas, the dean of the College of Education. “I was really surprised. People always say, ‘I wanted to teach, but…,” so they’re sitting there with a bachelor’s degree, eager for a chance to become a teacher.”
Those enrolled in the program are provided instruction and support on a direct route to obtain a teaching certificate. The participants are able to choose between elementary and secondary education.
There are over 50 people in the first cohort, teaching all over Michigan and further, such as Alaska.
There is an increasing number of teacher shortages throughout the United States, and the program allows for the university to provide a solution to the problem.
“The joy I feel is that these are classrooms that may not have been filled, and we are helping fill them.” Douglas said. “These are people that have had careers and have always wanted to teach, and now they are able to. It’s a jigsaw puzzle in terms of finding candidates and vacancies to fill, and we’ve had success doing it.”
So far, the participants have reported that it is going well, with minimal challenges.
“School districts have stated that the candidates are doing a terrific job,” Tapp said. “Candidates say they are very busy but are loving the program.”
Once the participants complete their residency and required classes they will receive a recommendation for teacher certification in Michigan.
“Partnering with SVSU and Dr. Craig Douglas has been a privilege,” said Hemlock Public Schools Superintendent Don Killingbeck.
The program has been approved to go through the 2021-2022 school year and will be renewed to continue.
“This is going to be a program that we will continue,” Douglas said. “There are teacher shortages in and out of the state. We have to fill the positions in other ways by thinking outside of the box, and this is one way to do it.”