Colby-Sawyer Partners With UVEI for Teacher Training Program

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/8/2018 10:00:20 PM
Modified: 1/8/2018 10:00:15 PM

For Colby-Sawyer College students who aspire to become teachers, the start of the new academic term on Jan. 17 will bring more than just a clean slate — it’ll also usher in a faster, more experience-driven way for them to begin their careers.

In as few as four carefully-planned years, education minors at the New London college can earn a bachelor’s degree as well as a New Hampshire teaching license, a process that would normally take at least five years. The accelerated certification process is the result of a new partnership between Colby-Sawyer and the Upper Valley Educators Institute, or UVEI, a Lebanon-based teacher preparation program whose graduates are eligible for licensure in the state of New Hampshire.

The partnership makes teaching the third career path for which Colby-Sawyer offers a license-driven program, in addition to nursing and athletic training, said Kate Seamans, senior director of communications, in an email Friday.

Darcy Mitchell, an associate professor of social sciences and education at Colby-Sawyer who oversaw the development of the partnership along with UVEI Executive Director Page Tompkins, expressed optimism that the program will attract more prospective teachers to the college, possibly leading to the expansion of the child development and education departments.

“We don’t really have, per se, that many education students right now,” Mitchell said over the phone Thursday. Still, “so many of our students have expressed an interest in teaching, that for us to be able to afford not only our child development students the opportunity to go on to become elementary school teachers, but also for our other majors (and minors) — history, English, biology — to become high school teachers? We’re very enthusiastic about it, and students are very excited.”

Though the child development minor has required a certain amount of real-world experience — both through the college’s Windy Hill School, a laboratory preschool on campus, and through internships — this fieldwork only prepared students to work in early childhood education, which generally spans infancy to age 8.

“We did have our own certification process in the past, and we did have a bigger (education) program just a few years ago,” Mitchell said. But because of “many changes happening at the state level … we took a little break from that.”

She said there wasn’t a specific legislative event that led to this decision, or the decision to pursue a partnership with UVEI, but “we realized that taking (those options) away was a mistake,” she said. “We’re really doing it right this time.”

“Doing it right” means that students in the accelerated certification program must fulfill certain academic requirements while at Colby-Sawyer, which they can do in as little as 3.5 years, before completing a full-time teaching preparation program at UVEI. While at Colby-Sawyer, they’ll also be taking what Tompkins called “feeder classes,” which will lead to concurrent enrollment at UVEI. This semester, for example, UVEI will teach the course “Methods of Teaching,” and Colby-Sawyer will teach “Classroom Management” and “Foundations of Education.”

After graduating from Colby-Sawyer, students would undertake a full-time, semester-long internship with UVEI, which will provide them with mentorship, experience managing a classroom and working with children and families and a professional development seminar.

Though this internship is half as long as UVEI’s traditional one-year certification process, students on the accelerated track will have fulfilled the same requirements by the time they graduate the teacher preparation program. State-approved programs like UVEI can design their programs as they choose, as long as graduates meet the requirements established by the state, Tompkins said in an email.

In a phone interview, Tompkins said he hopes the accelerated pathway will not only help Colby-Sawyer students earn the credentials they need to start teaching, but will also benefit New Hampshire schools, students and families by producing more teachers with more real-world training.

One of the reasons UVEI places such an emphasis on these field experiences is because the qualities that make an effective teacher “aren’t things you can just study,” Tompkins said. “You need to practice, you need to keep coming back, you need to get feedback and guidance from experts on how to develop these complicated and interrelated skillsets and strategies.”

He added that the partnership should make earning a teaching license more accessible to Colby-Sawyer students for whom affordability is a concern: Students in the accelerated program would be charged roughly half of a full year’s tuition at UVEI, which was $15,790 in 2017-2018 before financial aid, according to the UVEI website.

“These are students who love children, who want to be working with kids and changing the lives of families,” Mitchell said. “So I think this is a wonderful opportunity to provide.”

EmmaJean Holley can be reached at or 603-727-3216.

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