TAMPA, Fla. — The decision to shut down the College of Education at USF has many folks concerned.
“We have poured everything into this,” said Hannah Epstein, a Junior in the program.
Fortunately for her, and the more than 2,000 other students currently enrolled will finish out their degree at USF.
But students looking to enroll next year will likely be out of luck. Decreased enrollment and budget cuts led USF to make the tough decision.
They say students seem to be seeking alternative methods to getting their teaching certificate, including staying all four years at local colleges, like SPC.
“We are going to expand programs so that there is not a teacher shortage in the Tampa Bay region or at least not a shortage of opportunities to get the degrees to become teachers,” said Dr. Kim Hartman, the Dean of the College of Education at SPC.
She says they’ve been offering education degrees for 20 years and have a high success rate.
“Most semesters we have about 60% of our students [that] principals ask [for us] to release them early so they can go ahead and hire them,” she said.
They've also seen an increase in enrollment over the last few years, even though overall there seems to be a teacher shortage.
But, what's interesting is that with virtual learning, parents are seeing how tough it is to be a teacher, and gaining interest in the field.
"We have gotten emails and phone calls from people out of the blue saying wow I didn’t know teachers worked so hard, what a great profession," said Hartman.
She says some of those folks are now wanting to enroll and get their teaching degree at SPC.
But, for folks who still want to get the university experience, Hillsborough County schools can help you out.
“The state says for certification you can earn a temporary certificate by, number one, having a bachelors degree from an accredited college and having content knowledge so that could be my degree is in biology so I can be eligible for biology,” said Scott Richman, who oversees the Alternative certification program at the district.
And once you’re in the district's program, you can teach while you earn your certificate and pay off the $1800 enrollment fee from your teacher salary. He says right now, the program has about 470 students enrolled.
And before that, you can also become a sub after acquiring so many college-level hours which means you can teach while you work on getting your bachelor's degree.
“They did the subbing thing for a couple of reasons, number one, to make sure it’s what they like,” Richman said.
He says it also allows future teachers to experience different grade levels to see what they enjoy teaching.
Click here for details on the program.