Drake University launches teacher intern program for professional students

Drake University's new teacher intern program will offer an accelerated path to teaching for people who have a bachelor's degree and professional experience. (Photo Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images)

Drake University will offer people with a passion for teaching, who took a different path, a way to earn their teaching credentials and master’s degree while gaining in-classroom experience.

The new Teacher Intern Program, developed over the past year and approved by the Iowa State Board of Education in March, will put students with a bachelor’s degree in any field and at least three years of professional experience into a two-year program, the first focused on taking courses and the second on training in a real classroom setting.

Drake School of Education Dean Ryan Wise said the program was created to give people who may wish to become a teacher but who are already locked into a different job, or who have found barriers to entering a more traditional teaching education. It will launch in the fall, he said, and people have already started showing interest.

“This program removes those barriers and gives them an opportunity to come back and in one year, take the coursework they need, and then in the second year, actually become a fully paid and licensed teacher in a school,” Wise said.

Courses will focus on the foundations of teaching, Wise said, like planning and assessment, technology integration, and method courses in their chosen subject area. The nine classes will be spread out across the fall, spring and summer semesters.

Once they have completed the required credits, the students will have obtained their intern teaching license in order to be hired at a partner school district, typically to work in a middle or high school. This will allow them to receive full pay and benefits, Wise said, which sets the program apart from the unpaid student teaching required in traditional teaching education.

Des Moines Public Schools will serve as the flagship partner for the intern program, Wise said, but the goal is to expand to more districts across central Iowa in the coming year.

“Drake’s new teacher intern program is not only one more step in the long relationship between our two institutions, but also a deepening of our mutual commitment to serving the educational needs of our city and state,” said superintendent Ian Roberts in a news release. “DMPS is dedicated to encouraging and supporting the next generation of educators. Thanks to this new opportunity through Drake University, it will help open the door to the classroom for a new generation of teachers.”

Over the course of their teaching as an intern, the students will earn 10 more credits without needing to take more classes. Completing the program in totality will earn them a Master of Arts in Teaching degree.

While Drake’s new program isn’t the first in the state to offer a teaching intern license, Wise said, it is the only one based in Des Moines and the only one to award a master’s degree on top of licensure. According to the Iowa Department of Education, the University of Iowa and Morningside University also house teaching intern programs.

A Master of Arts in Teaching program already exists at Drake, Wise said, but the new interning opportunity will allow the university to expand its offerings to students with different needs. It also gives students the chance to earn more, earlier.

“Oftentimes in schools, you’ll move up on the salary scale once you earn a master’s degree, so not only will our teacher interns get paid in their second year, by their third year, they will very likely have a chance for another salary increase in career,” Wise said. “So we think that master’s degree is a real enhancement on top of the licensure.”

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