The Virginia Board of Education has given Mary Baldwin University the green light to offer two new endorsement programs that will strengthen the institution’s partnerships with local school divisions by preparing teachers to serve in critical shortage areas.

The new courses and concentrations in English as a Second Language (ESL) at the graduate level and reading specialist are pending approval from the Educational Policy Committee. and College of Education faculty members.

“Our focus on inquiry teaching and leadership, combined with the convenience of online coursework, will serve the needs of our students and school partners by enhancing the pool of quality, qualified applicants,” said Rachel Potter, dean of the College of Education.

r potter headshotThe graduate-level ESL program is designed for practicing teachers who wish to add a credential in ESL PK–12 to their current teaching license, or for pre-service/prospective teachers who wish to pursue this endorsement concurrently with another endorsement.

Mary Baldwin already offers an ESL endorsement for undergraduates, but decided to pursue making the program available through both undergraduate and graduate options in response to local school divisions who have identified a need for teachers with this qualification. Of school divisions surveyed, 63 percent noted that recruiting an adequate number of candidates for ESL vacancies was difficult or extremely difficult. The College of Education will begin to explore offering a master of education degree (MEd) with a concentration in ESL, with a hope to launch the program for summer 2016. The program will be available completely online.

The reading specialist endorsement is for teachers with three or more years of classroom experience who wish to add the endorsement to their teaching license. Embedded in what will be a master of education degree with a concentration in reading education, these courses will also all be available online. Seventy-six percent of school divisions surveyed noted that it is difficult or extremely difficult to recruit an adequate number of candidates for reading specialist vacancies. It is one of only a few endorsement areas where the state requires that the candidate first be a licensed and practicing teacher. The MEd with a concentration in Reading Education will also be available online beginning in summer 2016, pending faculty approval.