Maryam Rod Szabo

Maryam Rod Szabo

As the demand for educators trained to teach English as a second language rises across the country, Wartburg College is helping teachers fill the shortage without requiring them to leave their classrooms.

Beginning in summer 2020, the college will begin offering an English as a Second Language (PK-12) Endorsement through a 12-month online program. The endorsement already is offered to current Wartburg students.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 32 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have reported shortages in ESL educators.

“New teachers graduating with this endorsement will have a competitive edge in the job market, and current teachers will likely find themselves more in demand,” said Stephanie TeKippe, Department of Education co-chair. “Some schools are even signing increased compensation bonuses for ESL-endorsed teachers.”

Building on the success of the existing program, the new endorsement will include six courses in intercultural communication, language development, sociolinguistics, and bilingual education and the structure of English, as well as assessment, methods and pedagogy.

“This program is an opportunity to reduce an area of teacher shortage and serve a population that is not currently being served,” said Maryam Rod Szabo, assistant professor of education and one of the online instructors.

According to the Iowa Department of Education, English learners are among the fastest-growing populations in the schools and comprise about 6 percent of the student population in Iowa and 10 percent nationwide. These students bring both linguistic and cultural assets to their districts but regularly experience significant gaps in achievement compared to their peers.

Starr Covington, a 2019 Wartburg College graduate, was among the first Wartburg students to earn the endorsement. She currently teaches ELL and STEM at Rogers Elementary in the Marshalltown Community School District.

“I love learning about different languages, and I think that is what Wartburg is all about. I think these classes should be required for every teacher,” she said. “When I had my first field experience with high school students, I got to see the difference an ESL teacher can make for their students.”

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