Polk State College’s Educator Preparation Institute is in the spotlight for its efforts to help mature workers transition into K-12 teaching careers.
EPI is the subject of a story featured on the website Encore.org, which provides free information to those looking for a second career in the nonprofit or public sectors.
EPI is an eight-month alternative certification program for anyone who holds a bachelor’s degree. Students participate in online coursework, in-person classes and field training to prepare for the state’s certification exams and ultimately a teaching position. It is one of 29 such programs in the state.
EPI has taken several steps to support students who are 50 and older.
In 2010, EPI made available math and technology workshops and classroom management training to its older students. It also brought on a mentor — Richard Slaughter, an over-50 elementary school teacher — to assist older EPI students.
Since then, 60 students older than 50 have enrolled in EPI and 28 have found jobs as teachers or paraeducators.
EPI Director Beverly Woolery says the addition of a mentor who is of similar age has made a huge difference for EPI’s older students.
“The students bonded with one person all year, knowing he would be there for them,” she said.
Polk State also offers a central contract person for over-50 students to help with registration, getting information and signing up for workshops. The College also purchased additional study books that are on hold for older EPI students in the library.
To give all its students a competitive edge, Polk State’s EPI requires graduates to complete an equivalent of 120 hours of training to teach English to speakers of other languages. It is the only program in the state with such a requirement.
Encore.org is published by San Francisco-based Civic Ventures, a national nonprofit think tank on baby boomers, work and social purpose.
The Encore.org article is available at http://www.encore.org/find/resources/polk-state-college.