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By Gerianne Wright
SUNY Plattsburgh’s teacher education majors are set to have broader opportunities to work outside the country.
Under an agreement between the college and the Council of International Schools, students may be afforded not only study-abroad experiences but possibilities to move overseas to teach in foreign elementary and secondary schools, according to Denise Simard, associate professor and coordinator of the undergraduate teacher education program at SUNY Plattsburgh.
The Council of International Schools community includes 726 schools and 552 colleges and universities representing 112 countries. The council helps connect students and teachers to member international schools worldwide to provide international educational opportunities.
“We are the first college to partner with CIS in the United States,” Simard said. “We seek to offer our teacher candidates experiences to teach and learn abroad. We are in the very early stages of crafting what this may look like; we have brainstormed ideas such as faculty-led study-abroad trips with education courses, using an alternative spring break model, student teaching abroad, and vetting prospective teachers for the international schools workforce.”
‘We have teachers; you need teachers. Why don’t we see what we can do to close that loop.’”
Although the agreement is in its infancy, Jackie Vogl, associate vice president for global education, said the students are already “over the moon.”
“Pauline O’Brien, director of career and recruitment services at CIS, came to campus to speak to students about the program. She spoke to the whole gamut of teacher candidates — from freshmen to graduate students nearing their masters in student teaching,” Vogl said. “The best response was from the freshmen.
“Our freshmen were extremely excited. In fact, three came up to Pauline after her presentation to introduce themselves and tell her to count them in,” Simard said. “A couple of student teachers were ready to sign up for the fall.”
The program isn’t to that level yet, Vogl said, who added the enthusiasm speaks to the students’ excitement for the program and what it offers.
Schools join CIS to enhance their community using the services that include:
“Meanwhile, we have an impending tsunami of teachers, who went abroad to teach in schools, looking at retirement,” Vogl said. “We’re seeing an increasing number of vacancies at schools abroad that are looking for teachers. My first thought was, ‘We have teachers; you need teachers. Why don’t we see what we can do to close that loop.’”
Ultimately, Vogl said she’d like to see a collaboration with faculty and mentors that may involve them taking small groups of students for short study-abroad treks where teacher candidates can visit the international secondary and elementary schools that partner with CIS, “so they can see for themselves what it might be like to teach in a school outside this country,” Vogl said. “The goal is to find ways to get students to study abroad in a very short time so that they will then go for a longer period.”
Dr. Julia Overton-Healy, director of the Career Development Center, is also involved in the project along with Dr. Michael Morgan, dean of the School of Education, Health, and Human Services, and Michelle St. Onge of the Global Education Office.
For more information on CIS: www.cois.org
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