When New York State changed its teaching certification standards recently, the Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development adapted to accommodate the changes.
The Warner School, which enrolls about 400 full and part-time students, no longer offers an initial certificate ?formerly called a provisional certificate ? at the undergraduate level.
“The difference now is that we only offer the teacher preparation at the masters’ level, but at that point students can get the initial certificate and fulfill all the academic requirements for the professional certificate,” Dean of the Warner School Raffaella Borasi said.
However, UR students can still begin work on masters’ degrees in teaching during their undergraduate years.
“We have a lot of opportunities for students to take part in our courses to get a jump-start on their masters’ degree,” Director of Admissions Carrie Remis Rall said.
While teacher preparation programs are offered only at the graduate level, focused undergraduates can get ahead by enrolling in some teacher preparation courses. In order for an aspiring math teacher to qualify, for example, the undergrad must “complete the required 30 credit hours of coursework in mathematics and two courses in a language other than English,” according to materials available in the Admissions Office.
The Warner School allows undergraduates to transfer certain courses, up to four, into a teacher preparation program upon matriculation ? when credits cost $795 apiece at the graduate level, starting early on a masters’ program can be an economical option for many students.
“We really welcome undergraduates to explore the possibility of a career in teaching by taking a few courses, and talking to some of our faculty members or admission advisors,” Borasi said.
Sonia James-Wilson, an instructor in the teaching and curriculum program, has had several undergraduates in her classes. “The undergraduates have been fantastic thinkers ? they ask really good questions. I have been impressed by the range of extracurricular activities and the background experiences they bring with them,” she said.
“We want undergraduates to come here as opposed to other schools,” she continued. “Their presence really strengthens our relationship with the rest of the college and they are traditionally excellent students.”
While the Warner School no longer offers initial certification to undergraduates, students who qualify can still earn certification through the school’s popular three-plus-two and four-plus-one programs.
The 3 plus 2 program is a counseling program for advanced students who have their bachelor’s work completed by junior year and submit an application by April. “With this program, students get rewarded for identifying their goals and planning ahead,” Remis Rall said.
The 4-plus-1 program is less formal, allowing students to take master’s level courses during their senior year.
Previously, a student who received a master’s degree in chemistry could become a chemistry teacher. Under the revised New York State standards, a chemistry teacher must now take theory and methods classes that culminate in a Masters in Education degree rather than the upper-level chemistry degree.
The Warner School also prepares students of all academic backgrounds to become counselors. However, some majors prepare undergraduates better than others. “Anthropology is fantastic for education or counseling, and so is psychology,” Rall said.
Students who are interested but unsure of what the Warner School could offer them should sit in on a class or visit the admissions office to learn about classes, programs and job opportunities. “Students are encouraged to come in to talk, as early as the first semester of their freshman year,” Rall said.
“The reality is that we need teachers,” she said. “For students who are wondering what they could do when they graduate, this could be a really viable option.”