Tracey King enjoys teaching.
It doesn’t matter to her whether students are in general academic courses, advanced placement classes or dual-enrollment classes, the literature and composition teacher at Greater Johnstown High School has the same goal: to enable students to learn on their own.
“The expectation for teachers today is that we facilitate students’ learning, helping them to become autonomous learners,” King said. “To be successful in high school, college and career, all students need to practice and be able to demonstrate the highest level of cognitive ability, to become producers of knowledge, not just consumers of knowledge, regardless of the class and its label.
“To help them to achieve this, teachers guide students through questioning, lead through modeling or redirecting and motivate through opportunity and support,” she said. “I teach to help students to learn.”
Testing the teachers
For high school teachers leading students through college-level material in programs such as Pennsylvania Highlands Community College’s Accelerated College Education, the pride of a job well done is the only reward.
They volunteer their time to be a part of ACE, according to Melissa Murray, dean of school partnerships programs at the Cambria County-based college.
“Most are very dedicated to offering their students the opportunity to earn college credits while others like the challenge of teaching college-level curriculum,” she said.
The teachers have to receive additional training and become certified to teach courses from the various colleges that allow high school teachers to administer the courses.
At Pennsylvania Highlands, for example, high school teachers have to complete course-specific training and speak with a faculty member in the discipline they will be teaching. Teachers also must meet annually with a Penn Highlands professor regarding the courses they are teaching.
A Penn Highlands faculty member will visit the high schools to meet with teachers, observe courses, review tests and projects to be completed by students. The faculty member will then determine if the course is equivalent to the same course being offered on a Penn Highlands campus, Murray said.
Penn Highlands provides training for teachers such as Greater Johnstown’s Rob Heinrich.
“The support from Pennsylvania Highlands has been great,” he said. “I’ve been to at least five training courses. They put us in touch with their professors so that we can share ideas and to make sure that what we are doing is in line with what they expect.”