William Licht, Chair of Maranatha’s Teacher Education Department, doesn’t check his mail box nearly as often these days.
The letter Licht had been waiting for finally arrived in late January. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has reapproved the College to certify graduates for state teaching licenses. Maranatha met the recommendations for improvements given by a DPI review committee based on recent changes in Wisconsin law.
“Everything they suggested that we change turned out to be a positive for us in the long run,” said Licht, the DPI certifying officer at Maranatha. “I thanked them for that. This review process made our department stronger.”
Maranatha has been graduating certified teachers since 1994. The DPI conducts a review of the College every five years, then issues reapproval for Maranatha to certify teaching licenses until the next review.
Wisconsin’s educational code (PI Chapter 34) requires that a college be regionally accredited in order to award state teaching credentials. Maranatha has been regionally accredited since 1993. Colleges that are unaccredited or nationally accredited cannot grant Wisconsin teaching certificates to their graduates. Graduates who hold Wisconsin teaching licenses also enjoy reciprocity agreements with most states.
The DPI committee that reviewed Maranatha in May of 2009 recommended 13 changes to meet PI 34 requirements. Licht said most were adopted immediately. Others required a bit more time, but paid great dividends for future teachers.
“One recommendation was that we implement more fieldwork hours with both economic and racial minority groups to promote a deeper understanding of the ramifications of diversity in the educational experience,” Licht said. “We were able to make some really good connections with the Hispanic community in Watertown that allowed our students to interact with Hispanic young people in a variety of activities. We also got our students into a tutoring program for disadvantaged kids at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission.
“These programs not only allow them to experience different cultural situations, but also opened their eyes to potential avenues of ministry, both during their college years and after.”
The next review will take place in the spring of 2014. More than 200 students are enrolled in Maranatha’s Department of Teacher Education this semester.
“The laws have changed so much that it has taken some schools more than two years to reach full compliance,” Licht said. “We were very pleased to find out about our reapproval. It’s a big plus for our teacher education program.”