SORRENTO, La.—There is a secret on the campus of River Parishes Community College. It’s an unintentional secret, but a secret to many nonetheless. The secret is … RPCC has an outstanding program to help students kick start a teaching career.
River Parishes Community College offers an innovative, 60-hour Associate of Science in Teaching degree, which prepares education students to teach grades 1-5. The AST program at RPCC is a flexible and cost-effective way to complete the first two years of a degree in teaching. Upon completion, the 60 credit-hours are fully transferable to four-year institutions in Louisiana to be used toward a degree in elementary education. That amounts to half of the bachelor’s degree.
“Our Associate of Science in Teaching degree is one of the absolute best ways to prepare education students for a career in that field,” said Dr. Joe Ben Welch, RPCC Chancellor. “The class work, together with the hands-on experience they will receive, give AST students a leg up on their counterparts once they enter a university.”
The AST program is the only degree program at RPCC which requires that students meet certain criteria in order to enter. In addition to the application process to enter the college, prospective students must also apply for the AST degree program. Students must maintain a 2.5 grade point average to be accepted. Prospective students must also go through an interview process with RPCC faculty.
Prospective students must pass a background check; the program requires time with children in a classroom environment.
“We highly encourage future educators to apply, but you have to put some thought into this,” said faculty advisor Julie Sullivan. “You can’t just wake up at 2 a.m. and decide to do this. We don’t ever say ‘no,’ but sometimes we have to say ‘not yet.’”
The program requires time and effort from students to complete. In order to complete the program, students must earn a C or better in each core class. Each student must perform at least 20 hours of field placement –time in an actual classroom. Once course work is completed, students must pass the Praxis I and II exams, and must conduct an exit interview at a four-year university.
Those that enter the program, then decide against a teaching career, can easily transfer any earned credits toward a General Studies degree at River Parishes Community College.
Currently the program boasts six participants. Sullivan hopes to have as many as 15 in the upcoming spring semester. The existing group recently launched a chapter of the Future Teachers of America club on campus. Through that organization, they raised funds last semester through a bake sale to buy each first-grade student at St. Amant Primary school a book. Each teacher at the school received a book as well, for use in the classroom or school library. At the end of the fundraising campaign, FTA members read books to the St. Amant pupils in their classrooms on Monday, Dec. 14.
The FTA chapter has plans to continue raising funds next semester. They plan to expand their book-buying fundraising initiative to Prairieville Primary school. The menu may even change as well. Instead of a bake sale the group will explore the idea of selling jambalaya as a way to increase the fund.