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Faculty of Education teacher certification engages outlying communities

June 10, 2013
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School-based student support workers in outlying communities may have a gift for teaching and have acquired fundamental teaching skills on the job, but teacher certification often remains an impossible dream for them.

The time away from a much needed regular job and the expense of travelling to and living in a city with access to a university-based teacher certification program make the dream inaccessible.

However, a 16-month Professional Linking Program (PLP) offered by Simon Fraser University’s Faculty of Education is helping to turn that scenario around.

For only the second time since creating PLP to help school-based paraprofessional educators certify as teachers while working, SFU is offering it to students living outside of the Lower Mainland. SFU created the program more than 10 years ago.

This time, a cohort of 16 (maximum allowable) students in the Powell River area will start the program in January 2014.

Three years ago, 17 school-based student support workers in the Fort Ware/Quesnel area became the first cohort in an outlying British Columbia community to access the program, which is unique in Canada. (SFU’s Professional Development Program, a module- and campus-based teacher-certification program, held a session for paraprofessional educators in Kelowna in 2005.)

“Our PLP is the only continuing teacher certification in Canada that enables students to complete their teaching certification requirements and work simultaneously in their home community,” says Michael Warsh, SFU PLP coordinator. “It allows SFU to engage with working individuals, frequently working mothers, far from city-based higher education centres, who because of family and financial needs can’t conform to regular daytime classes.”

Jay Yule, superintendent, School District 47 (Powell River), says the district is pleased to have reached a PLP agreement with SFU’s education faculty. “This program provides a unique opportunity for well-experienced and qualified district support workers and other qualified potential students in the area to transition to professional teaching careers.”

Warsh emphasizes PLP is in no way a short cut to teacher certification. He says: “It is actually a more difficult course of study than PDP because PLP students must work in a school throughout most of the program while taking courses and then teach full-time in their final practicum semester.”

For more information of the Professional Linking Program, visit: www.educ.sfu.ca/teachersed/plp.html