Cutline: Mary Rahn, credential candidate, and Diane Guay, education department chair, are part of what makes CND’s credential program so successful.

The education department at CND, the largest on campus, is recognized around the state as turning out some of the best teachers in the state. The department, celebrating 45 years in teacher education this year, has supplied over 3,500 teachers and administrators to the world at large and the county in particular.

The program, started in 1953, has credentialed about 2, 700 teachers and 800 education administrators. There are seven full-time faculty members and seven programs.

The department offers a multiple subject credential for grade school teachers, single subject credential for middle and high school teachers and a preliminary administrative services credential for those interested in education administration.

The program also offers a master’s degree in education for Montessori training, master’s of education for multicultural education and a master of arts in teaching. The college has about 250 students in the education credential programs and 45 in the three masters programs.

Multiple subject teachers prepare to teach all subjects to grade schoolers from math to art. Those in the single subject program learn to teach a single subject, like English or math, and possibly one other course.

Classes for the Montessori master’s prepare teachers for the 3- to 6-year-old age group. The Montessori early learning center on campus is a lab school with about 30 kids age 3 to 6 and five or six teachers, “and we do put some of our Montessori (master’s degree) students down there for their practice teaching. It has its own director and full-time teachers hired by that director, but it’s linked with this department,” said Diane Guay, department chair.

The multicultural master’s track teaches elementary and middle school teachers to deal with the changing cultural environment of California schools.

Among other things, it focuses on counseling and on teaching those speaking English as a second language.

The master of arts in teaching is a program “in which students can get further training in their particular discipline,” said Guay. Courses also provide the teaching strategies to communicate that knowledge.

Both credential and master’s degree aspirants must have a bachelor’s degree for admission. Single and multiple subject education credentials can be earned in a calendar year, usually as a full-time student. “The teaching credentials require student teaching (during the day) in schools so people can’t work during the day, at least not very much,” said Guay.

But both administrative credential and master’s degree programs are geared toward working students, so classes are held at night and on weekends. Of course, that lengthens the process so each program takes two years.

This scheduling is designed to make the programs accessible, and College of Notre Dame gets a good cross section of students from around the area.

“We’re the only teacher education college in all of San Mateo County. We’re very well situated and easy to get to in terms of commute and our reputation is really good,” said Guay.

Many students are re-entering school or changing careers. The average age of students training in single subject is 37, those in multiple subject average in their high 20s. “Our students come from all over the county — from many of the finest colleges, and some students come from our undergraduate departments, but most of them are not from this college,” said Guay.

Guay is justly proud of the effect College of Notre Dame has on Bay Area education. “The school districts like to hire our graduates. All teacher education programs have to be credentialed by the state, but they don’t have to be rubber-stamps of one another, so every college will have a slightly different program,” she said.

“One key difference at CND is that people have to student teach for two semesters. In most colleges they only student teach for one semester. This, I think, is key to making a big difference when people go out and start really teaching.”

For instance, at San Francisco State University, which has a very large teaching program, students do their course work first and student teaching last. “Many colleges have that model,” Guay said.

CND combines the two so students can apply what they are learning immediately, and Guay believes CND graduates feel more comfortable right off the bat “because they’ve had so many more hours of supervised practice teaching.”

Geri Acers, now instructional coordinator at San Mateo County-Foster City School District, would have to agree. “A lot of the teachers I work with in our school district are first-and second-year teachers who have had their training here at Notre Dame,” said Acers.

One teacher told her there was a distinct advantage in having graduated from CND. ” ‘I come in here knowing how to do writing records and literature circles . . . because I had the training in my pre-service. I feel sorry for some of my colleagues who come in here and don’t have any of that training. Their learning curve is much steeper than mine.’ These very words came out of her mouth,” said Acers.

Acers moved here from Michigan to look for a social service job and ended up at Notre Dame in 1969.

“There was not a plethora of jobs and there were a million applicants, so I decided to go back to school and get my teaching credential. I felt com­fortable here right away,” she said. Back then College of Notre Dame was still a women’s college.

“In the morning I’d go off to a school for student teaching and in the afternoon and evening do course work here.” Acers earned her credential, went to work, then came back in 1990 to earn an administrative credential and master’s in public administration at the college.

One advantage all College of Notre Dame graduates seem to have is a strong connection with other personnel in their field. For Acers, “the best thing was the friendships and collaborations I was able to develop. It started here. We were all in that teeny room, sitting around a table together on Saturdays doing projects and exchanging ideas.”

The group was, “really forming those kinds of relationships you need to have when you’re in an area like this because you need to have resources that are outside your own district. When I need something I call them,” she said.

College of Notre Dame has salted the Bay Area with teachers, principals, superintendents and county administrators. The education department is graduating about 150 students per year.

Although numbers on how many of the graduates are active in their profession right now are not kept, “I bet we have a thousand. People tend to stay in those jobs pretty much for a lifetime,” said Guay.

Mary Rahn, Stanford graduate and second-semester credential candidate, ended up at Notre Dame after a decision based on tradition and research. “My mom went through the program a number of years ago, so I’ve known about it and heard good things about it.

“The two I heard about most are the STEP program at Stanford and the program here. From talking to people that have been through each of the programs I heard this one is actually better. You get better jobs coming out of it,” she said.

You do so much student teaching and are given a lot of responsibility right at the onset so you figure out right away if you like teaching. Everyone is just on top of things,” she said.

This article was written by William Cracraft/Freelance News Service and first published in 1998 in the 75th Anniversary Edition tabloid published by Alameda News Paper Group. Any accompanying photos were also taken by William Cracraft. It is reproduced here as a portfolio piece.


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