Kaylin Beach of Pomfret, left, is congratulated by former CSM Trustee Chair Mike Middleton during the College of Southern Maryland May 2015 Commencement Ceremony. Beach earned a degree in elementary education and enrolled in the 2+2 Program with Towson University to complete her bachelor's degree.
LA PLATA, Md. (Feb. 8, 2016)—Kaylin Beach, 20, of Pomfret, always knew that she wanted to be a teacher. She loved kids and she loved learning—putting the two together has always been her dream.
Accomplishing her dream without leaving her family in Southern Maryland is a bonus.
Through a partnership between the College of Southern Maryland and state universities, Beach is able to earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education without leaving Southern Maryland.
“Affordability, convenience, flexibility, quality and local connections/partnerships are what make CSM’s teacher education program stand out. Early childhood and elementary education students can get a four-year degree without leaving the Southern Maryland area through our 2+2 partnerships with Towson University and Notre Dame of Maryland University,” said Professor Elizabeth Settle, who is the program coordinator for teacher education at CSM.
The Towson 2+2 program, in its 15th year, was created to meet the needs of students with family commitments for whom traditional college programs did not work. Now it makes sense for students of all ages and family situations.
“The flexibility of the classes makes the commitments of work and family more easily balanced than a traditional on-campus model. It is the perfect program for students who want a quality experience with the comfort and convenience of staying close to home,” said Laurie Haynie, coordinator of the Towson 2+2 program.
A key element of the program is Towson University's relationship with local schools. The Maryland State Department of Education identifies local schools as Professional Development Schools. Towson collaborates with these schools for the academic and clinical preparation of teacher candidates. The partnership continues the professional development of both the school system and Towson University faculty.
In addition, CSM/TU 2+2 students are placed in these schools for their student teaching experiences. “Although we have had schools in all three counties in the past, this year we have 12 students, six who are placed at J.P. Ryon Elementary School in Charles County and six placed at Lettie Marshall Dent Elementary in St. Mary's County. The relationships we are able to build over time with the human resource departments, schools, administrators and mentor teachers has been invaluable in placing the next generation of well-trained teachers in local classrooms,” said Haynie.
Beach’s teaching practicum was at J.C. Parks Elementary for the fall semester of her sophomore year at CSM. “I learned so much—and I became part of their community of teachers. I got to go to so many classrooms and it was so much fun.”
“Ever since I was little I knew I loved kids and I know I love to learn and basically looking at all the things I like to do, teaching was the only field that let me do all those things at once. So, it made the most sense to study teaching. As I started doing it, I started realizing that I have been preparing for this since I was a kid. Being home-schooled you are a teacher along with being a student. A lot of the techniques that I am learning now where things that my mom and I did [studying] at home at the kitchen table. It is interesting that everything I experienced as a kid has led up to this,” said Beach.
“My mom definitely inspired what I do and I picked up a lot of great knowledge about teaching from her. She started teaching me at home and always thought I would eventually go to a school. But she fell in love with the opportunity to explore every day and learn something new [through teaching],” Beach said.
In addition to the in-class teaching practicums, Beach has gained valuable experience through her job in the education department at the Humane Society of Charles County. “Along with teaching children about being humane to animals, I help with birthday parties where I have to hold the attention of more than 30 children who are easily distracted by dogs, cats and other animals,” she said.
“Although both 2+2 programs are for elementary education, grades first through sixth, Notre Dame also accepts the AAT Early Childhood PreK-3. Although there isn’t a secondary education option at this time, it is possible to add a middle school endorsement to the elementary certificate to be eligible for grades seven and eight,” Settle said.
The typical Towson cohort is made up of minimum 12 students and a maximum of 20 who have earned an associate’s degree in education. From the summer after earning their associate degree, students spend two years taking classes and student teaching in the Southern Maryland area. Upon graduation in May of the second year with a bachelor's degree in elementary education, 100 percent of the students interviewing for positions have been hired with the majority being placed in one of the three local counties: Charles, St. Mary's and Calvert, according to Haynie.
Beach is on track to earn her bachelor’s degree in May 2017 and wants to keep her options open. “I want to work at a school that embodies the kind of teacher I want to be. I am an experience-based learner and I want to be able to offer that kind of learning to my students rather than managing a classroom where all the students have to stay in their seats and be quiet all the time.” She wants to teach fifth- and sixth-graders, because she realizes that this age group might be beginning to lose their love of learning and she wants to try to keep learning fun for them.
To learn more about teacher education programs and opportunities at CSM, the college is hosting a Teacher Education Open House 6-7:30 p.m., Feb. 24 at the La Plata Campus.
To register for the free event or for information on CSM teacher education programs, visit www.csmd.edu/soc.