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July 10, 2006

GSU Teacher Training Program is Christa McAuliffe Award Finalist

University Park, July 10, 2006 - In a stunning achievement that brings both recognition and credit to Governors State University, the Alternative Certification Program was named one of only six finalists nationally for the 2006 Christa McAulifffe Excellence in Teacher Education Award by the Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).

The Christa McAuliffe Award is given in honor of the teacher/astronaut who died in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986. This prestigious award recognizes quality teacher-training programs that impact teacher candidate knowledge and demonstrate the impact of the teacher candidates on their students. Previous winners have included Ball State, Old Dominion, Valdosta State, Indiana State, and San Diego State Universities.

"Being named a finalist is quite an honor. This is the first time an alternative teacher certification program has been so highly recognized," said Dr. Steven Russell, Dean of the College of Education at Governors State University.

Through extensive study and training, the Alternative Teacher Certification program at GSU enables adults with college degrees and previous work experience in other professions to become fully certified teachers in 16 months. A major component of the program includes the commitment of the teachers to work in underserved and under funded school districts in Chicago and the South Suburbs for at least three years.

"Our program trains mature adults to be leaders in the classroom and in the school. Because they have already experienced success in their previous careers, they bring a certain dynamic quality to education. We have lawyers, entrepreneurs, and accountants becoming very effective teachers and we have the documentation that proves it," said Dr. Karen Peterson, director of the program.

Peterson cites data that illustrate the positive effect teachers trained in the Alternative Certification Program have on the schools and students with whom they work.

"We are very proud of our program. It is unique because we are able to document our teachers’ impact on student learning and prove how effective they are in the classroom because of our close working relationship with our partner school districts. Of the 120 teachers trained in the program, more than 90% are still teaching or have gone onto administration. This is much higher than the national retention average for new teachers."

Mary Randle of Crete and Paul Karlovics of Orland Park are currently training to become teachers in the GSU program. Randle, a former actress, finds working with children much more fulfilling than her work on the stage or in film. In the fall, she will be teaching at her alma mater, Gwendolyn Brooks Junior High School in Harvey.

Karlovics left a career as a criminal prosecutor. "I was burned out from locking up kids and throwing them away. Teaching is a chance to make an impact before there is a problem."

Ghantel Gueno Perkins of Crete is very pleased with both her training in the Alternative Certification program and her work as a third grade teacher in Crete-Monee School District 201-U.

"Whenever I have the opportunity to speak about the program, I always give the highest praise. Although it was quite rigorous and difficult, it honestly gave me the best preparation I could have hoped for."

The winner of the Christa McAuliffe Excellence in Teacher Education Award will be notified in September and the award will be presented at the AASCU Annual Meeting in Palm Beach, Florida in November.

"Being named a finalist for this award is a special honor. Christa McAuliffe said, 'I touch the future. I teach,' which is the motto of the Alternative Certification program at Governors State," added Peterson.

For more information about the Alternative Certification program at GSU, call (708) 534-4399 or visit altcert.net.

Posted by n-battaglia at July 10, 2006 01:10 PM