The Evergreen State College is launching a graduate degree program in Tacoma aimed at training teachers who want to work in urban schools.
The Olympia-based college, which has a branch campus in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood, is recruiting for its Tacoma master’s in teaching program.
Students who are accepted would begin study in 2012 and graduate in 2014.
Evergreen’s main campus has offered the MiT degree since 1990, and a pilot program was offered once in Tacoma in the mid-1990s.
Now the college wants to make it a Tacoma fixture.
“We have had a lot of requests from students here,” said Sherry Walton, director of Evergreen’s teacher education programs. The college also wants to make a commitment to the community in which its branch campus is located.
To be admitted, students must have a bachelor’s degree, pass state-required tests and meet other pre-requisites.
The mid-1990s Tacoma program that offered the MiT degree proved successful, said Artee Young, director of the Evergreen Tacoma campus. Of the 66 students who graduated, 45 are still teaching in the Tacoma area, Walton said.
That program was supported by a grant that ran out.
Organizers of the new Tacoma program want to attract people from other professions. They especially hope to recruit people of color.
It’s important for students who belong to ethnic minority groups to be able to “see people like themselves” at the head of the classroom, Young said.
There’s a long-standing nationwide push for minority teachers, especially in urban districts such as Tacoma, where more than half of students come from minority groups.
Evergreen wants to recruit students from Pierce County neighborhoods who would like to teach children from those same communities. The program can accept up to 50 students.
“The significance of that is that you have a relationship,” Young said. “You have something you share – the same values, the same community.”
Classes in Tacoma will be taught mainly in the evenings or on weekends to accommodate working adults. MiT students also will spend about 1,000 daytime hours in public schools during their two years of training.
Teachers-in-training from Evergreen’s main campus already do their student teaching at schools in Tacoma and Lakewood, and the Tacoma Evergreen program would continue that tradition.
The Evergreen program starts students off with observations in public school classrooms, then has them gradually work with students one-on-one or in small groups.
Master’s students complete two full-time, 10-week student-teaching experiences during their second year of training.
“You can read about the needs of kids in a book, but until you’re in a school, in a community, you don’t know what (the books) are talking about,” Walton said.
Debbie Cafazzo: 253-597-8635 debbie.cafazzo@thenews tribune.com