Polk Has First Completers of New Career Educator Pathways Program

Posted on by Polk Newsroom

Polk State College’s Educator Preparation Institute has graduated the first class from a  program designed to help industry experts transition to new careers as public school teachers.

Last year, in partnership with Polk County Public Schools, EPI developed the Career Educator Pathways (CEP) program.

The CEP is for career and technical teachers who have the occupational experience to teach subjects such as welding or mechanics, but need training in how to run a classroom.

CEP participants take five online, non-credit courses, including Technology and Industrial Certification, Teaching Methods, Curriculum Construction and Evaluation, Students With Special Needs, and Research-Based Reading Strategies. Each course costs $300 and takes about a month to complete.

After they complete the courses, and as long as they’ve satisfied a few other requirements with the school district, CEP students will receive their District Career Educator Certificate, the highest teaching certificate career and technical teachers can receive.

Career and technical teachers in Polk County begin their teaching careers with a temporary certificate. Prior to the development of CEP, they had to go to a state university to complete their instructional training. That option was not only expensive, but also inconvenient.

“Now we have a homegrown program,” said Lois Schuck, senior coordinator for teacher education with Polk County Public Schools.

“The CEP instructors already work in the Polk County School District, so they are mentoring the CEP participants and helping to get them assimilated to the culture of the district. It’s an affordable, accessible way for career and technical teachers to learn everything they need to be effective in the classroom.”

Polk State’s CEP is open not only to teachers in Polk County, but to other public school districts as well.

“Through CEP, these teachers learn how to apply their years of knowledge and skills toward teaching students in the career and technical fields in our K-12 schools,” said Sherri Davis, program specialist for the Educator Preparation Institute. “They receive training to recognize weaknesses in reading, to teach students with learning disabilities in the career and technical classroom, and for working with students from a diverse array of backgrounds.”

“CEP participants are experts in their field, but teaching their industry expertise and knowledge to someone else can be difficult, but to entire classes of students can be daunting without this type of program. This first class of completers were an absolute joy to work with.”

The first class of CEP completers includes:

  • Gregory Allen of Lakeland, who teaches automotive service technology at Traviss Career Center
  • Jeff Fraker of Lakeland, who teaches digital video production at Haines City High School
  • Christopher Hallock of Lakeland, who teaches in the energy technician program at Traviss Career Center
  • Brian Marti of Lakeland, who teaches culinary arts at Lake Region High School
  • Randy Murphy of Winter Haven, who teaches welding at Traviss Career Center
  • Kirk Stephens of Bartow, who teaches culinary arts at Kathleen High School
  • Lyle Tripp Jr. of Bartow, who teaches law enforcement standards at Kathleen High School

“The CEP was very convenient and allowed me to complete the coursework much faster than I expected,” Tripp said.

“The cost and time were nearly half what other colleges and universities offering similar programs require. The professors were all local teachers and were very understanding of the demands of the job. They provided great insight into the subject areas, and I enjoyed learning from them. I would — and have — recommended this program to others searching to obtain their vocational training certification.”

More information on CEP can be found at polk.edu/education.

The Educator Preparation Institute is designed for professionals who hold a bachelor’s degree and want to teach, but did not major in Education. The program is offered in both hybrid — combination of online and face-to-face instruction — and fully online formats. Students complete seven month-long courses, two 15-hour field experiences in a K-12 school, and three Florida Teacher Certification exams. Once these requirements are completed, students are eligible for a permanent teaching certificate. Polk State EPI graduates are teaching in K-12 schools across Polk County and in surrounding districts.