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Grant would unite teachers' studies


August 24, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — No one ever said becoming a teacher is easy.

That process will go more smoothly for some Imperial Valley residents, thanks to a recent grant awarded to the teacher education department at San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus.

The five-year $955,994 grant from the U.S. Department of Education will fund the university's new Accelerated Career Education program, also called Project ACE.

"The purpose of the program is to facilitate the process of getting para-professionals and other school employees to go through the process of becoming teachers," said Olga Amaral, a member of SDSU-IV's teacher education faculty and the author of the grant.


According to the grant's abstract: "Project ACE will, for the first time, unite the requirements of the Imperial Valley Community College, San Diego State University and the teacher education program into a coherent sequence of course work, of theoretical and practical applications and field experiences to combine into a full preparation program whereby students will be counseled along each step of the way."

Project ACE will help students not just through the credentialing process but all the way from classes at IVC to receiving a bachelor's degree from SDSU-IV to earning teaching credentials.

SDSU-IV and IVC already have many adults taking classes with the goal of earning teaching credentials. Many of these students don't fit the traditional image of a college student, as they have full-time jobs and families to support. As such, they have special needs Project ACE hopes to address.

The program will provide assistance with tuition, child care, tutoring and academic support will be offered as needed to program participants, Amaral said.

"Our goal is to minimize the barriers," Amaral said. "We're here to help them become teachers, whatever that takes."

"By offering specialized scheduling, we hope the time frame for them to complete the program will be shortened," Amaral said.

The program will put emphasis on preparing students to teach English-language learners of all proficiency levels, Amaral said.

Project ACE's tutoring component will offer assistance for teachers-to-be in both their regular academic classes and as preparation for taking teaching tests such as the California Basic Education Skills Test and the reading instruction competency test, Amaral said.

Amaral stressed the importance of a seamless course of instruction from IVC to SDSU-IV for future teachers.

"We want the program to start integrating teacher education courses earlier on," Amaral said.

"We intend to help students all the way through," Amaral said.

"I hope to be able to have a direct connection with participants so they feel they have at least one person to turn to when they have a problem," Amaral said.

Amaral expects 100 program participants in Project ACE's first year. The program's budget will determine how many more can be added each of the four years thereafter, Amaral said.

Likely participants will include those who indicated interest in such a program in a past survey and para-professionals already working in schools.

Interested parties wanting more information can contact Amaral at 768-5538.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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