HARLINGEN — Wow.
That speaker sure knew a lot about medications. We need to offer him a teaching job. Several students are interested in a class about pharmacology, and he could teach …
Wait a minute. He’s not certified to teach. Or is he?
What is “certified to teach?” Is it a piece of paper or ability?
Preferably both. But a teaching credential doesn’t always mean a person can teach. In like manner, lack of a teaching certification doesn’t mean he or she isn’t qualified to teach.
That’s one of the issues the school district hopes to address in its application to become a District of Innovation, said Alicia Noyola, chief academic officer for the Harlingen school district. Many people in various industries have a lifetime of experience in a particular field. As such, they’ve acquired knowledge and know-how unattainable in a classroom setting, information not found in text books. It’s the kind of edge anyone would want after leaving school and entering the work force.
“We have seen some of these opportunities with our School of Health Professions,” Noyola said. “We have a number of individuals that right now will come in as guest speakers.”
As a District of Innovation, those guest speakers could be offered a certification opportunity which takes into account their experience, Noyola said. This would apply to the Career and Technology Education fields.
“We could look at taking advantage of that opportunity and make teaching a course available,” she said.
One example is pharmacology, the study of medications. A few students have expressed interest in such a class, but not enough students to fill every period for a full-time teacher.
However, a member of the community with a wealth of experience could be certified to teach one course a day instead of seven classes for 187 days.
“I could hire someone because we have a number of individual professionals that have time in their day, but they can’t teach all day,” she said. “If we can certify them, there are all sorts of opportunities.”
This could apply to any number of professions, including the automotive and culinary industries.
“There are so many individual professionals that represent the various career and technology education areas,” she said. “It’s really about addressing workforce needs.”
Anyone hired to teach in the Harlingen school district must present a lesson to a committee. Likewise, industry professionals hired to teach a course based on their experience will go through a certification process. The school district will develop that certification process, if it chooses to pursue this endeavor.
Noyola said the effort to become a District of Innovation is part of the redesign of Career and Technology Education. That redesign is a three-year plan to restructure CTE classes. The classes are being redesigned to better prepare students for the workforce or post-secondary education.
Tina Garza, principal at the School of Health Professions, said she’s excited about the changes which will impact not only health science students but those throughout the district.
“This is a good career opportunity for all students in HCISD,” she said.