Saint Mary’s Pioneers New Undergraduate Single Subject Teaching Credential Pathways
The Kalmanovitz School of Education has launched a portfolio of new programs that enable students to earn a teaching credential in 40 different pathways—including majors in every school at SMC.
Through a portfolio of programs that are leading the way for teacher training in California, students at Saint Mary’s College of California can now pursue one of dozens of majors and simultaneously earn a single-subject teaching credential. As a result, they are now able to graduate with both a bachelor’s degree and a California teaching credential in just four years.
The new programs are the result of collaboration across the Saint Mary’s academic community—with the Kalmanovitz School of Education anchoring teaching training, and developing 40 new pathways with the School of Liberal Arts, School of Science, and School of Economics and Business Administration. This portfolio of programs was developed with the support of a pair of grants that KSOE secured through the California Commission on Teaching Credentialing.
To teach middle school and high school in California, educators need a single subject teaching credential. At most other universities, including those in the California State system, students generally must spend an additional year completing their credential after earning their undergraduate degree. At SMC students will now be able to cross the stage at commencement with both degree and credential in hand.
“This gives pre-service teachers the best training they could receive in order to enter the California schools,” says Monica Fitzgerald, Associate Dean of the Kalmanovitz School of Education.
Forty majors and programs
The far-reaching suite of program builds on work SMC began work on in 2018, enabling students to complete a multiple subject credential for K–8 teaching while earning their undergraduate degree. At the time, Saint Mary’s also developed a teaching credential program paired with the major in Justice, Community, and Leadership.
With the new programs, 40 programs are included—from the likes of Music, Art, Data Analytics, Business Administration, and Kinesiology to Biology, Chemistry, and Mathematics. While students will be able to declare these major concentrations for their credential for the 2024–25 academic year, current Saint Mary’s students are also able to transition into these pathways. Monica Fitzgerald has been meeting with a number of current students—including those studying History, English, and the Integral Program—to help them shape new plans of study and start the program right away.
An Approach Ahead of the Curve
The program opens up tremendous opportunities for students. It also puts Saint Mary’s well ahead of the curve in teacher training, notes Carol Ann Gittens, Dean of the Kalmanovitz School of Education.
“SMC's strategic advantage in establishing these new integrated single subject teaching credential pathways across all academic schools lies in its commitment to comprehensive, liberal arts education,” Gittens explains. “By offering diverse teaching credentials that span various disciplines, the College not only prepares educators with specialized knowledge but also addresses the evolving needs of the education sector.”
“By offering diverse teaching credentials that span various disciplines, the College not only prepares educators with specialized knowledge but also addresses the evolving needs of the education sector.”
The approach to the program is rooted in the DNA of SMC, she notes. “The undergraduate integrated approach positions the College ahead of competitors by providing a holistic and adaptable teacher preparation program, fostering our Lasallian commitment to social justice within the context of quality education and innovation, and producing graduates who are well-equipped to navigate the dynamic landscape of PreK–12 education.”
Monica Fitzgerald also draws attention to the fact that John Baptist de La Salle—the founder of the Christian Brothers—helped put teacher training on the map. “Because of our Lasallian mission and values, and our liberal arts core, Saint Mary’s offers a unique education for teacher candidates that centers justice, dialogue, inquiry, cultural humility, and equity,” she says. “School districts want to hire our students because now more than ever; in the classroom we need transformative teachers who strive to help every child reach their full potential.”
Faculty and staff in the Kalmanovitz School of Education have already found, when they travel to professional conferences, that educators at other institutions want to know how Saint Mary’s was able to launch the new program. “We are a model now that other people are going to follow,” Fitzgerald assesses.
Partnerships with Community Colleges
Along with launching the broad-ranging single subject credential programs, Saint Mary’s has also been building partnerships with five community colleges to create a pathway for students who transfer into SMC to take part in those programs. Through the partnerships, students can complete two years of study at a number of community colleges and then two years at Saint Mary’s—and graduate with both a bachelor’s degree and a teaching credential.
Through the partnerships, students can complete two years of study at a number of community colleges and then two years at Saint Mary’s—and graduate with both a bachelor’s degree and a teaching credential.
Those partnerships reach across Contra Costa and Alameda Counties in the Bay Area. SMC began an inaugural partnership in 2018 with Los Medanos Community College in nearby Pittsburg. This past academic year Saint Mary’s has added partnerships with Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Merritt College in Oakland, and Las Positas College in Livermore.
The partnerships make sense—in no small part because they further broaden access to higher education and create more pathways for future educators. “We equip future teachers in a unique way to celebrate the diversity of their own classrooms and communities that they're going to be in,” Monica Fitzgerald says. “And that's really important for teachers in the 21st century in California.”
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