WMU News

New degree program to prepare students to be teachers of technical education

Aug. 12, 1999

KALAMAZOO -- A new bachelor's degree program offered in cooperation with eight Southwest Michigan community colleges and approved in June by the Board of Trustees will help fill a growing demand for teachers of technical subjects.

Students who enter the program will receive a bachelor of science degree in occupational education studies. Upon graduation they will be ready to teach a wide range of technical subjects, such as automated manufacturing technology, drafting, graphics communication, industrial maintenance or radio broadcasting, at high schools, trade academies, career or technical centers, or community colleges.

The Department of Family and Consumer Sciences program will be offered through general university studies within the Division of Continuing Education beginning this fall. It was established with the help of two $25,000 grants from the Michigan Department of Education and planned and developed in conjunction with Kalamazoo Valley, Kellogg, Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Glen Oaks and Lansing community colleges as well as Southwestern Michigan and Lake Michigan colleges.

In the next five years, it is estimated that 40 percent of technical education teachers will retire, says Carl A. Woloszyk, family and consumer sciences. So expectations are high that the program will grow quickly and possibly expand to other parts of the state.

"The timing is really right for this," Woloszyk says. "We see a tremendous need out there and a lot of interest in the program."

The program is tailored to fit the needs of the many non-traditional students who will be attracted to it. Students will take technical classes at their community college and take education and classes in their teaching minor as well as other classes at WMU. Several education classes may be taken via interactive television starting this fall at four distance learning locations in Battle Creek, Benton Harbor, Grand Rapids and Muskegon. Lansing will be added in the winter semester.

Students also can take part in an intensive two-week summer institute, in which they will do preliminary reading at home before coming to campus to complete course requirements. By conducting courses over 10 days of concentrated study, time away from work and family will be minimized.

Woloszyk says all class requirements are clearly laid out and 62 out of the 122 credits required are taken at the community college.

"So this is really a 'two-plus-two' program," Woloszyk says. "I think we'll be seeing a lot more of this. It really does maximize the efficiency of the educational system, while making things easier and more convenient for students."

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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