New program provides non-traditional route to nurture aspiring teachers

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KINGSTON, R.I. — June 2, 2006 — Responding to the need for math and science high school teachers in the state’s urban school districts, there’s now an alternative route for prospective teachers to gain certification in these areas — all while they’re actually teaching in the classroom.

Applications are now being accepted for the first class of non-traditional teachers to enroll in the Aspiring Teachers Program, which is part of the Rhode Island Teacher Education Renewal (RITER) project based at the University of Rhode Island. The program is supported by a $7.5 million U. S. Department of Education Teacher Quality Enhancement grant that was awarded to URI in 2004 to reform teacher education and strengthen the preparation of the next generation of Rhode Island teachers.

To be considered, applicants must already hold a bachelor’s degree with a major in mathematics, physics or chemistry or equivalent areas. If accepted, these candidates will begin a two-year program in which they are hired as teachers under an “emergency credential” by an urban school district and will start classes this summer to prepare for teaching in September. While working as teachers, the candidates will continue to take classes during the summer and the academic year to attain full certification. The college credits earned in the process may also be used towards a master’s degree program.

“This program is really geared toward people who received their bachelors degrees in an area of math or science, have worked in related fields, and are now seeking a new career,” said Education Professor David Byrd, who is director of the University of Rhode Island’s School of Education and co-director of the RITER project. “Many seasoned professionals may look at this as the perfect opportunity to extend themselves into the academic realm where their expertise is so vital to the next generation.”

In addition to math and science teachers, the program will also recruit secondary special education teachers for the same school districts.

The RITER program targeted statewide reform through a partnership with all colleges and agencies involved in the education and certification of teachers in Rhode Island. The non-traditional certification program was developed by URI, Johnson and Wales University, Providence College, and Rhode Island College in partnership with the Central Falls, Pawtucket, and Providence School Districts. Grant funds will be used to offset the program costs.

Application materials and further information on the program is available online at or email:

The program is aligned with the Rhode Island Beginning Teacher Standards, the professional standards of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, National Science Teachers Association, Standards for the Council of Exceptional Education, state certification regulations and the requirements of the No Child Left Behind law.