Tech transforms pre-teaching track

Tech: the school of engineers and teachers. However, the Tech Pre-Teaching experience is continuing to grow in both size and interest, much to the pleasure of the pre-teaching advisor, Susan Belmonte. Through the program’s information sessions, advertisements and other campaigns, STEM-minded students are being encouraged to explore the possibility of becoming a teacher.

The program is not currently offered as a certificate or minor, rather, a Career Exploration Program, and the goal of the program is just as the name suggests.

“The student has a lot of chances to explore teaching, and by the time they graduate, they will either know they definitely do or do not want to be a teacher, or they will be unsure, but intrigued enough to keep exploring the prospect of teaching,” said Belmonte.

The program also seeks to assist students in any way possible through the job seeking process. In Spring 2013, Belmonte personally worked with nine individuals in their efforts to seek employment.

Currently, seven of those nine are full-time teachers, one is a full-time tutor for a tutoring company and the last is a full-time intern in the educational field.

These students are not just thrown into the real world; the pre-teaching program is intended to both peak students’ interests and also to prepare them to ultimately teach, one step at a time.

Recently, students participated in a mock interview session with Fulton County Schools Human Resources Department. The mock interview with a local school system gave students immediate feedback on their strengths and weaknesses, highlighting what they can work on to ensure their future success.

Another key goal of the program is for participants to gain a relationship with the different Tech departments and student organizations, in the hopes that it will further prepare students.

Another program for students is the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience, a paid research experience where students can work with teachers to develop and improve curricula based on findings from their own research.

Some would view the program as good, but a potential waste to all of the time and effort being funneled into becoming an engineer, only to end up a teacher, but others would view this as an even better deal.

“Why wouldn’t you want to graduate from Tech to be your peers’ or your child’s teacher? In my opinion, Tech is only as strong as its incoming class, and we need more Tech graduates working in grades K-12 to support Georgia Tech as an institution,” said Belmonte.

The program offers other potential long-term benefits as well. For example, there is potential for student loan forgiveness or cancellation through the federal government, with certain requirements. Tech also works in conjunction with Georgia State through a joint-degree program, so interested students can begin working towards a Master of Arts in Education.

Finally, if a student is not from Georgia, or wishes to teach in another state besides Georgia, Belmonte urges students to not let this deter them from considering this career exploration program.

“While I want to help send qualified new teachers back out into the Georgia school systems, I would never turn a student from another state away. Ultimately, I view the education system as a whole. If we can begin improving the quality of education and teaching in every state, that will benefit Georgia Tech, the state of Georgia, and our country, even more so.”

The courses offered under the program will count as three-credit-hour, special-topic free electives. Courses will cover critical issues in  the current education system, the sociology of education and educational psychology.

For more information on the Georgia Tech Pre-Teaching Program, please visit www.preteaching.gatech.edu or email Susan Belmonte at [email protected] .