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by Jessica S. McDunn, University Relations

This school year, 58 HPU teacher candidates and teacher interns are enrolled in the program and are engaged in field experiences at 18 public and private O‘ahu schools. The Department of Education has designated 26 of those students as “emergency hires.”

“ We are hoping to contribute to easing the teaching shortage,” said Dr. Valentina Abordonado, director of HPU’s Teacher Education Program (TEP). “We want to grow our own teachers who are committed to living and working here.”

The TEP has partnered with six island schools where teacher candidates and interns are paired with mentor teachers to gain practical classroom experience by participating in parent-teacher conferences, department meetings, extracurricular activities, and planning, implementing, and assessing curriculum initiatives. One of those schools is Wahiawa’s Leilehua High School.

“ We are a benefactor of the partnership. It’s a no-brainer, a win-win for the school, the teachers, and our students,” said Leilehua High School Principal Norman Minehira. “The teachers are learning how to navigate this kind of diversity so they can succeed anywhere.”

HPU is unlike many other teacher education programs, offering field-based course work from the first semester of the program.

“ It’s more hands-on,” said HPU teacher candidate and Leilehua ESL teacher George Olivas. “We can actually use what we learn in the classroom.”

“ This program enables teachers to get their certification while teaching,” said HPU teacher candidate and Leilehua pre-algebra teacher Annette Romualdo. “We learn better by active learning – learning by doing.”

“ You’re in the classroom from day one, so you know if the program is right for you immediately,” said Matt Capps, HPU teacher candidate and Leilehua chemistry and physical science teacher.
Since the program’s inception in 2004, more than 60 students have entered the program, and most are opting to seek a master’s of education degree in secondary education (M.Ed.) after earning licensure.

“ We’re all in this program together as cohorts,” added Romualdo. “It’s advantageous for us to be going through it all together. We are each other’s resources.”

Not only are the Hawai‘i Pacific teacher candidates visible on O‘ahu’s high school campuses, so are the program’s professors.

“ The professors are accommodating, but they don’t lower their standards,” said Romualdo. “They’re available any time. If I were going to a bigger university, I wouldn’t have that accessibility.”

Some of the students in the program will be earning their licenses as early as December 2006, while the program expects to graduate its first class in the summer of 2007.

For more information on HPU’s TEP, contact the Graduate Admissions Office at 544-0279 or e-mail grad@hpu.edu or log on to www.hpu.edu/med.


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