It is no secret that K-12 education is changing at a hectic pace. Part of the job of the Atlantic Union Conference Office of Education (AUCOE) is to find the good and discard the bad in this race to educate our children. AUCOE, in collaboration with the six conferences, seeks to support the structure and life-long professional development of teachers and principals with a comprehensive and mission-oriented program.
Effective summer 2017, the union contracted, once again, with Andrews University to provide certification and master’s classes to teachers working in Seventh-day Adventist schools within the six conferences in its territory. More than a dozen teachers have enrolled in the master’s cohort as they work toward a degree either in Special Education, Curriculum and Instruction, or a Master of Arts in Teaching, or Educational Leadership. Also, more than 60 teachers have taken certification classes to improve their teaching skills and to meet certification requirements.
Professional education is taking on a very personalized approach. All the Andrews University classes are available to the teachers online. Therefore, they can take classes from the comfort of their homes. This opportunity is available year round, and teachers can attend online classes during summer, fall, and spring semesters. Through this process, teachers can personalize their professional learning by earning academic credits to meet certification requirements or by choosing areas that interest them.
There are a variety of other options for teachers to sharpen their skills. There are micro-credentialing classes, seminars, and local and national subject area conventions. Additionally, the North American Division National Teachers Convention in Chicago, Illinois, August 6-9, 2018, will give all of our teachers an opportunity to sharpen their skills and interact with world-renowned educators while being inspired to minister for God.
The teachers have shared with me their gratitude for these opportunities, and this is expressed in the words of one of their colleagues. “Thank you for the opportunity to attend these classes. I am learning so many things. . . . I’m learning about the various special needs and how to attend to those different needs among my students.
“There’s a wealth of information out there that most of us as classroom teachers are not aware of, that could help to make our classroom experiences less stressful. I am now more prepared to face my class of challenging students because I have a better understanding of how to identify where my students are and how to get them to where they need to be.” I am reminded of the counsel that the Apostle Paul gave to Timothy regarding his professional development: “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”—2 Timothy 2:15, MEV.
Lileth Coke is the Atlantic Union Conference education assistant director and certification registrar.