TESOL Graduates Fill a Need

TESOL Graduates Fill a Need

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“Our TESOL graduates are highly sought-after. In fact, they’re frequently recruited before they even graduate,” says Anne Campbell, PhD, associate professor and TESOL program director.

The TESOL (Teachers of English as a Second Language) program in the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions was established 40 years ago. Even then, it was a field in high-demand. “There’s a need for TESOL teachers all around the country, but Connecticut has had an especially strong market,” she says. In fact, this past year, the Norwalk, Conn. school system enrolled approximately 300 new English learners. Although there are always some newly arrived immigrants entering the school system, “a surge like that was completely unexpected,” says Helene Becker, instructional specialist for Norwalk’s English Language Learner (ELL) Education Department.

The reasons for this influx vary, but often have to do with the political situation both here and in the South American countries from which most of the students originate. Stamford has also had a large, unforeseen increase in English language learners, which necessitated more ELL classes.

When unexpected needs like that happen, school systems can apply to the state for a waiver on certification, allowing students enrolled in the TESOL program to get to work in the school system before they’ve graduated. Called Durational Shortage Area Permit (DSAP) teachers, the students continue their studies as they work in the classroom, using that experience to replace their student teaching requirement. They then have up to three years to complete their required coursework.

“This year, five of our graduate students were hired as DSAP teachers in Norwalk, and another three hired in Stamford,” says Dr. Campbell.

Along with the rest of the faculty, the DSAP teachers finished up the year teaching remotely, ensuring that students didn’t lose any ground while the schools were shuttered. “And we’re working on plans to continue remote classes for our students over the summer,” adds Becker.

Fairfield has always provided the surrounding towns with a strong pool of TESOL candidates. This year, three of them – Melissa O’Donnell, Rodney Arganese, and Stephen Kandro – received Excellence in Teaching Awards from Norwalk’s Brien McMahon High School “for going above and beyond to make sure that no child is left behind.” Fairfield’s Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions has the only TESOL MA program with initial certification in the state. It offers the cross-endorsement for certified teachers and is nationally recognized by the TESOL International Association.

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Last modified: 07-13-20 12:49 PM

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