Alanna Campbell: Expanding teacher certification is good for students
I am a student at Transylvania University, a liberal arts university in downtown Lexington, Ky., where I am a political science major and anthropology minor.
I attended high school at Barbourville Independent School in Kentucky, located in the western foothills of the Appalachian mountains.
There, I was blessed with the privilege of not only knowing, but being pupil to, multiple Teach For America educators, who first came to my high school as alternatively certified teachers.
This was a most unexpected opportunity —I never imagined that a Spanish teacher with a passion for photography, or a math teacher who simultaneously loved creative writing, could open my mind to so many different opportunities and interests.
As someone who has been positively impacted by the effectiveness of Teach For America educators, I applaud the bi-partisan decision of the West Virginia Legislature to pass House Bill 2005.
It is my hope Gov. Tomblin signs this important education bill into law to allow the creation of additional pathways to teach in high-need classrooms.
I believe that it is fundamental for vacancies in all school systems to be filled with effective teachers so that students have the ability to be taught in an environment conducive to learning.
Secondly, because of their diverse backgrounds, I believe Teach For America and other effective alternatively trained teachers can provide a unique perspective that lends itself to a positive learning experience. I believe that students in West Virginia can benefit greatly from HB 2005.
Although trained differently than traditionally certified teachers, this did not hinder my instructors in any way. Through their alternative training methods and varying backgrounds, my teachers were able to pioneer innovations in the classrooms at my high school that have forever changed the way I think of education.
Their unique perspectives shed new light on the subjects which they taught, and inspired me to continue striving to learn more. The passion that these teachers brought to the classroom was infectious, and I know that without it some of my classmates may not have graduated at all.
However, thanks in part to our instructors’ dedication to making learning a positive experience, many of my classmates and I were able to attend various colleges and universities across the United States.
Based on my experience under the tutelage of alternatively trained teachers who were effective in raising my peers’ and my own achievement, I firmly believe that HB 2005 can only positively influence the lives of the students of West Virginia.
As stated previously, it is imperative that the vacancies within the school systems are filled with high-quality teachers, so that the students of West Virginia have the resources necessary to be competitive within higher education and their careers.
In addition, the diverse backgrounds of these teachers provide a unique environment conducive to the education of these students. These teachers will expand the students’ horizons and provide opportunities for exposure to cultures which may have been completely out of reach otherwise.
So, with the well-being of the students of West Virginia in mind, I urge Gov. Tomblin to sign the Alternative Teacher Certification Bill and open more pathways for effective teachers in the Mountain State.
Alanna Campbell is a political science major and anthropology minor at Transylvania University.