In an effort to draw in additional potential would-be teachers, Tulsa Public Schools has extended the 2022 application deadline for its Tulsa Teacher Corps program to Wednesday.
Launched in 2018 in response to a statewide teacher shortage, the program targets college graduates who did not earn a degree in education but have since decided they want to teach.
The accelerated teacher preparation program includes mentoring from instructional coaches, six weeks of hands-on experience during TPS’ summer programming and two years of coursework to prepare participants for the state teaching certification test.
“What we’ve done is created a pathway into education that removes a lot of the barriers that someone otherwise might face,” said Katy Green, TPS executive director of educator effectiveness and professional learning.
Among the barriers addressed by the program are the cost of tuition and fees to take the necessary additional college courses to earn an alternative teacher certification. Aspiring educators seeking standard certification normally must complete up to 18 college credit hours of education coursework, depending on their current degree level.
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In 2020, the Oklahoma State Department of Education approved a request to waive the additional college credit hour requirement for Tulsa Teacher Corps participants since the program offers its own coursework at no charge.
For Kendall Wilson, a Tulsa Teacher Corps participant now teaching at Monroe Demonstration Academy, the prospect of not having to take out student loans in order to enter the classroom was a career-changer.
Originally planning on a career focusing on mental health, Wilson graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a degree in psychology. While her academic background has come in handy while working with middle school students, she said she would not have been able to pursue a teaching career otherwise.
“I feel like Tulsa Teacher Corps helped me discover my professional purpose,” she said. “Without it, I would not have been able to go into teaching.”