TODAY'S PAPER
28° Good Morning
28° Good Morning
Long IslandEducation

Dual certification elevates new teachers’ employment chances

Evan Goldaper, 26, teaches his AP seminar class

Evan Goldaper, 26, teaches his AP seminar class at Glen Cove High School on Oct. 31, 2017. Credit: Barry Sloan

Evan Goldaper was just out of college, looking for work as an English teacher, when he decided he’d better make himself more marketable.

“I had been applying for jobs, and I found I wasn’t getting called back except as a sub,” said Goldaper, 26, who lives in Kings Park.

So he decided to obtain dual certification — a form of licensing that allows him to teach in two fields — and the strategy worked. He now is in his first year of full-time teaching at Glen Cove High School, with qualifications in both English and literacy.

Across Long Island, school districts have begun hiring again after a painful period of retrenchment. That development comes with a caveat for would-be teachers, though.

While qualified candidates are scarce in a few educational fields, applicants are plentiful in others, school employers cautioned. Oversupply is particularly pronounced in elementary education, where some districts report as many as 1,000 online applications for every slot that opens up.

One task for job-seekers, then, is to familiarize themselves with where the demand lies.

Teachers certified in sciences such as chemistry and physics are eagerly sought, local school administrators said. Ditto for teachers trained in bilingual education, foreign language, technology and special education.

The concentration of job openings in specific subjects is confirmed by results of a recent survey by the New York State School Boards Association, which found similar patterns throughout the state.

Versatility is another key to employment.

More than a dozen school superintendents and college deans interviewed by Newsday agreed that prospective teachers better their chances of employment when they obtain dual certification. Examples would include candidates qualified to teach both elementary education and special education, or Spanish coupled with English as a second language.

Obtaining such credentials need not increase tuition costs. Administrators on several local campuses said their students regularly earn dual credentials, along with bachelor’s or master’s degrees, at no extra cost by carefully selecting the appropriate course credits and without taking more classes than are needed to earn a single certification.

Often, the only extra expense is the $100 fee paid to the state for each certification.

For teachers, dual certification provides extra job security. For school employers, it supplies flexibility in assigning teachers to different classes throughout the day.

“Sometimes, you have to search to the end of the globe for it, but we’ve had success,” said David Bennardo, superintendent of South Huntington schools.

South Huntington hired 35 new teachers this year, including 15 with dual credentials. The district’s efforts to recruit appropriate candidates extended as far as California, Bennardo added.

The Island, like other regions of the state, experienced widespread layoffs of teachers starting around 2009, as the economy soured and student enrollments declined.

The trend discouraged many college students from considering careers in education. From the 2009-10 through 2014-15 school years, the number of young adults entering teacher-training programs on campuses statewide dropped by nearly 40,000, or 49 percent, according to the state Education Department.

Now, with the economy rebounding and schools restoring programs, local education leaders want to spread the word that jobs are available once again — as long as applicants know how to prepare.

“We lost so many teaching jobs from 2009 to 2011,” said Albert Inserra, education dean at the LIU Post campus in Brookville. “Now schools are hiring again. But the hiring is in certain specific areas.”

With that in mind, the LIU Post College of Education and Information Technology this year established a dual-certification program at the bachelor’s degree level. It also set up a five-year program in which students earn dual certifications along with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Dual-certification training also is available at other area colleges and universities, including Adelphi, Hofstra, Molloy, SUNY Old Westbury, St. Joseph’s and Stony Brook. Some such programs are brand-new; others go back 15 years or more.

Veteran educators counseled prospective teachers that employability is by no means the only factor to consider.

“I always say to them, ‘Don’t go into a certain certification area just because you think it’s going to get you a job,’ ” said Maria Rianna, the Glen Cove superintendent. “Focus on your area of interest.”

The question is exactly how to pursue a career path that is both appealing and practical.

Goldaper found one way.

First, he earned a bachelor’s degree at Stony Brook University with a double major in English and history and certification as an English teacher. He later earned a master’s degree at Columbia University, with certification in literacy that qualifies him as a reading specialist.

At Glen Cove High School, Goldaper teaches two daily English classes for ninth-graders at a regular Regents level. He teaches three other English classes for 10th-graders at a more advanced level.

Goldaper said his training in literacy dovetails nicely with his academic background in English, especially when he is giving students practical help in managing their academic workload.

The 10th-grade classes are part of an Advanced Placement Capstone program, which provides comprehensive college-level instruction while students still are in high school. The program is new to Glen Cove this year.

Goldaper was hired June 20. A week later, the district sent him to Baltimore for five days’ training in AP Capstone’s seminar-style program.

July and August were spent helping to write his school’s new curriculum.

“I’ll tell you, it was a whirlwind,” the new teacher said. “It was definitely intimidating, but I felt ready. It’s really exciting to be able to build something from the ground up.”

Latest Long Island News