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Commentary: Expanded teacher training program an idea to consider

Dr. Eugene Paslov

Our teaching force in elementary and secondary schools is aging. In just a few years, many of our current teachers will retire. Nevada’s teacher training institutions do not prepare enough teachers to replace those who leave the profession and/or retire.

As those who have taught know, teaching is an extremely rewarding profession requiring constant effort. Being well trained, and having comprehensive professional development available, are the keys to effective teaching.

As we all know, many people have experienced recent job loss and may well be looking for new careers, especially those professionals who have B.A.s or advanced degrees in areas like engineering, mathematics, science, arts and technology. There are also young adults just starting college who might want to consider teaching as their profession. It is a rewarding, exciting field; teaching provides the opportunity to serve and give back to one’s community.

I would like to bring this emerging need (loss of teachers through retirement) together with a potential opportunity involving Western Nevada College to develop a new four year degree-granting program for residents who are interested in becoming teachers. WNC already has a four-year program, a Bachelor of Technology in Construction Management; they have also developed a B.A. in elementary teaching in conjunction with Nevada State College in Henderson.

The Nevada State College program is facilitated by distance learning methodologies. What I would suggest is that WNC aggressively recruit Northern Nevada area teaching candidates (first time students as well as mid-career applicants) for their elementary teaching program. WNC might also purchase or create its own teacher-oriented distance learning program and initiate its own four-year secondary teaching program, culminating in an academic major (B.A.) and a teaching license.

A “distance-learning model,” plus a day a week(end) in class with appropriate professors is a model used successfully by Silver State Charter High school, by the University of Phoenix and by other higher education institutions around the world. Many higher education institutions, both public and private, are beginning to develop distance learning models to address the needs of those who want new careers but who also have families and/or work responsibilities which hamper classroom attendance.

WNC is a forward thinking, creative institution that could move ahead with an idea of this sort. There are potential partners – other public and private higher education institutions, and/or the feds – who would be willing to work with them.

I also realize that there are many obstacles to overcome, but the potential service to our larger community, our local economy and to our schools would make the effort worthwhile.

• Dr. Eugene T. Paslov, former Nevada superintendent of schools, is a board member for Silver State Charter High School in Carson City.