New CCC program offers alternative path to classroom

Nancy Jobe, left, and Victor Lopez, listen to instructor Rhonda Roberts during a Clovis Community College class designed to help students earn their teacher certification. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Ryan Lengerich: CNJ staff writer

Nancy Jobe has a bachelor’s degree and a love for children, but the traditional path to the classroom doesn’t make sense economically.

The 44-year-old office worker from Clovis earned a double degree in fine arts and graphic design from Eastern New Mexico University in 2002. The mother of two college students said her financial situation led her away from a graphic design position.

Teaching has always been an interest for her, but going back to school for a teaching degree and racking up student loan debt would be time consuming and cost prohibitive. Her husband has a business degree from ENMU and also wants to teach.

In July, Jobe stumbled upon a poster at Clovis Community College advertising New Mexico’s alternative licenser program, which allows anyone with a bachelor’s degree and 30 hours in their major to become a certified teacher in one year.

“We had both wanted to teach, but with the conventional way we didn’t know how we were going to pay the bills and teach,” Jobe said.

CCC officials hope to graduate about 15 students in the summer of 2005.

“It gets very qualified people in the classroom quickly,” Program Director Jan Lloyd said.

The traditional education student attends a four-year college and completes 14 weeks of unpaid student teaching. With a bachelor’s degree the alternative licenser student needs 21 hours to teach primary education and 18 hours for elementary education.

Lloyd said the program is especially suited for rural areas, where teacher shortages are common.

Some students, Lloyd said, are recent college graduates looking for work prior to pursuing a master’s degree. But the program caters well to older students interested in teaching.
“We’ve got some in their 40s and 50s even — they’ve been working elsewhere,” Lloyd said. “They have got their bachelor’s (degree) and have had it for a long time, but needed to work full-time to go to school and this allows it.”
Maybe more important than becoming certified — is getting hired.

Ladona Clayton, Clovis schools assistant superintendent for instruction, said she worked closely with CCC officials to develop the criteria. While the program is still in its infancy, she said she is looking forward to seeing the first graduates’ credentials in the summer.

“They can really be of great benefit to the public schools because they have focused their attention in that one core area,” Clayton said. “When you put them in alternative licenser, we give them the education piece.”

When the summer hiring season sets in, Clayton said the administration will have no bias against alternative licenser students versus traditional students.

“We always select the best candidate for the position,” Clayton said. “I am not going to say an alternative licenser student or graduate is less qualified if they have been granted a license by the state of New Mexico to teach in a classroom.

“I am going to tell you that we put a lot of value on the student-teaching experience.”

Built into the program is a 125-hour field experience requirement similar to student teaching, Lloyd said.

And for Jobe, the ability to work during the day and attend classes at night has been a dream come true for her and her husband, she said.

Jobe hopes to teach some graphic design at the high school. She said her bachelor’s degree transfers well to the classroom.

“My art degree will help with projects,” Jobe said. “Hands on projects enable the students to learn a lot better and retain knowledge.”