LA PLATA, Md. (Sept. 26, 2016)—Since she was in the second grade, Maria Estevez has known she wanted to teach.
Her teacher had asked the students what they wanted to be when they grew up. Estevez gave her answer, and she hasn't wavered on that choice.
"I always put teaching on the list and nothing else," she said. "And I never changed my mind."
After graduating from North Point High School in Waldorf, Estevez headed to the College of Southern Maryland for an associate degree, which she earned in May 2016. Estevez wanted to continue in courses in elementary education that were affordable, and she wanted to be able to continue to work while she took classes. She also knew she wanted to student teach in Charles County as part of her education.
Estevez didn't have to look far for a program that would fit her needs. She is now on her way to earning a bachelor's degree in education, and she doesn't have to leave Southern Maryland to do it.
CSM is able to partner with two major Maryland teacher preparation programs – Towson University and Notre Dame of Maryland University – to offer local access to all state requirements for teacher certification.
"Students are able to learn and grow as professionals in their communities," said Elizabeth Settle, CSM professor and teacher education program coordinator. "The partnerships are a wonderful way to support local school systems in their efforts to grow their own teachers. Many CSM students have strong ties to the area and are well-suited to move into careers in the same systems where they completed their own education."
Prospective teachers can learn about options available to them at CSM. The college will host a teacher education open house from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12 at its Prince Frederick Campus.
The open house will provide the opportunity to learn about teacher education at CSM as well as certification pathways available in Southern Maryland. Students who are currently in and who have graduated from partnership programs will be available to answer questions, as will be representatives from CSM, Calvert County Public Schools and other CSM partner institutions including Notre Dame of Maryland and Towson.
Estevez is participating in the Towson 2+2 program that was originally created to meet the needs of students with family commitments that might prevent them from taking the traditional college route. Even now, 16 years later, the program still appeals to students in a variety of situations.
"I was drawn to it for many reasons, most importantly so that I could student teach in Charles County, which allowed me to make early connections in my teaching career," Estevez said. "Second, I would save a lot of money by staying at home, and I could keep my current jobs."
The 2+2 partnership programs allow students to complete the first two years of their teacher preparation program at CSM. They then apply to one of the partner institutions and complete the remainder of their program through that university but on a CSM campus, earning their bachelor's degree and Maryland state certification, Settle said. The programs are offered in early childhood and elementary education.
A key element of the 2+2 program is Towson's relationship with local schools. The Maryland State Department of Education identifies local schools as Professional Development Schools (PDS). Towson collaborates with these schools for the academic and clinical preparation of teacher candidates. Towson has PDS sites in Charles and St. Mary's counties. Notre Dame of Maryland also works with the three local school systems to place students for their internship experiences.
CSM offers three teacher education degrees in early childhood education (birth to Grade 3), elementary education (Grades 1-6) and secondary education (Grades 7-12).
Estevez has done her teaching practicum in a third-grade classroom at William A. Diggs Elementary School in Waldorf and in first grade at Walter J. Mitchell Elementary School in La Plata. She is currently in her first semester junior year and is on track to finish in 2018.
She chose to get a degree in elementary education because she likes to teach in all subjects and have one group of students as opposed to teaching only one subject and having many students. "I want to be a teacher because I love working with children. I like how every day is a new day. I love that I am not sitting behind a desk, and I like the idea that I am helping to impact the future and each of my students' lives."
The open house at the Prince Frederick Campus will be held in Building B, Multipurpose Rooms 103, 104 and 105. To register online, visit www.csmd.edu/soc.
For more information, contact Settle at 301-934-2251 or firstname.lastname@example.org.