More than 100 future and current educators from across the region attended the Education Leadership Conference, organized by College of the Canyons Teacher Preparation Pipeline (TPP) Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM)/Career Technical Education (CTE) program, and held in the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center last Friday.
The event, which was co-hosted by the COC Future Educator’s Club, attracted students from nearly every high school in the Santa Clarita Valley, along with aspiring teachers from the student ranks at COC, CSUN, University of La Verne, Fullerton and the Cypress Community College TPP STEM/CTE program.
Also in attendance were faculty members from COC and the William S. Hart Union High School District.
With an event schedule that included 12 different breakout sessions, a keynote address focused on 21st Century Education, and a multitude of opportunities for students and community members to network with current educational leaders, the goal of the event was twofold — to help students identify the career path and leadership opportunities most closely aligned with their professional goals, while generating excitement about the opportunities available to those looking to enter the field of education.
“We currently have a teacher shortage across the state and people just don’t understand that,” said Renee Marshall, director of the COC TPP STEM/CTE program and chair of the college’s Early Childhood Education department.
According to a recent study by the California Department of Education, the state projects a need of 27,000 newly trained teachers every year for the next decade.
“Our goal right now is to get the word out, get people excited about entering the field of education, and provide them with the resources needed to get trained,” said Marshall.
“It’s also about broadening their perspective about what it means to be an educator.” Marshall added. “This is not just about teaching, it’s also about needing counselors, administrators, after-school personnel, at the preschool, K-12, and college levels. We’re experiencing a systematic shortage in many areas, and especially in STEM/CTE fields.”
To help combat this problem COC and the Hart district have partnered to develop curriculum and program requirements for a new education career pathway designed to streamline the training process for students interested in becoming teachers and educators.
Through the college’s concurrent enrollment program, which provides free tuition to high school students, individuals following this newly established pathway are able to enroll in COC courses, earn units toward their degree and complete initial field work — all before ever receiving their high school diploma.
The COC TPP STEM/CTE program also provides additional resources, including opportunities to observe and volunteer in local classrooms, complete fieldwork and receive other specialized support services, for students interested in pursuing a teaching credential.
Meanwhile, the COC Future Educators Club works to provide additional workshops and training activities — like the Educational Leadership Conference — designed to assist students in reaching their educational and vocational goals. Free to join, the club is open to anyone who is interested in a career in education.
For students who have already obtained their associate and/or bachelor’s degree, the University Center offers both single subject and multiple subject teaching credential program through the University of La Verne, with classes held at the COC Valencia campus.
“At COC, it’s about doing what is best for the next generation of teachers,” said Marshall.
For more information about the College of the Canyons TPP STEM/CTE program and COC Future Educators Club please visit www.canyons.edu/TEACH