School Choice Wisconsin President Nicholas Kelly speaks at CUW about the Concordia Teaching and Learning Academy

The Concordia Teaching and Learning Academy makes it more convenient and affordable for second-career teachers to succeed in the education field.

Recently, the CUW School of Education hosted a conference with more than 20 school and policy leaders from the School Choice Wisconsin network of schools. On the agenda was a new, first-of-its-kind program to help address the statewide teacher shortage, the Concordia Teaching and Learning Academy (CTLA), which launched last week.

“We have a massive teacher shortage here in Wisconsin,” explained Dr. Adam Paape, assistant dean of the School of Education at CUW. “And it’s exacerbated for private and parochial schools, which generally aren’t able to pay teachers as much as their public-school counterparts.”

One way the state of Wisconsin helps with this is by allowing anyone with a bachelor’s degree to teach in a Choice school. To illustrate this point, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction issued more than 3,800 emergency teacher licenses to allow non-licensed individuals to fill teaching vacancies last year.

“The CTLA makes it easier for those teachers to be better prepared,” Paape explained.

Convenient and cost-effective

The CTLA is an online program that combines experiential learning with one-on-one mentorship to arm aspiring teachers with the skills and tools—and education—needed to make a difference in the lives of students. In just a year-and-a-half and at a cost as low as $9,000, the CTLA is both a convenient and cost-effective solution to the teacher shortage facing Wisconsin’s choice schools. It is accessible to all Wisconsin residents who hold a bachelor’s degree.

“This is an exciting opportunity, not only for our member schools, but also for mid-career professionals interested in giving back to the community by bringing their real-world experience into the classroom,” said School Choice Wisconsin President Nicholas Kelly. “CTLA graduates will help private Choice schools across Wisconsin continue to be competitive in a highly competitive market to hire experienced professionals to deliver their curriculum and maintain the high standards they have set in their schools while remaining fiscally responsible due to inadequate state funding.”

“CUW’s partnership with School Choice Wisconsin is a unique opportunity to support our private and parochial schools in training teachers in an immersion and mentorship model,” Paape added. “The CTLA will provide new teachers the knowledge and support that they need to be successful and continue in the profession while allowing them to pursue licensure and a degree down the road. We look forward to this vibrant partnership to growing and flourishing.”  

Needed support

Another unique aspect of the program is that students can apply their credits toward additional studies at Concordia.

“We developed it to be online so it can be accessed by anybody in the state of Wisconsin,” Paape explained. “When they finish, they earn a CTLA certificate, but if somebody chooses, they can convert these professional development credits into up to 12 graduate credits and then finish out the licensure program through us.”

The program also includes a mentoring program designed to support new teachers while they learn in the classroom, said Sarah Mayer, academic partnership coordinator in the School of Education.

“There’s research showing that second-career teachers need to feel supported and that they belong in their school culture in order for them to stay in the profession long term,” Mayer said. “But many of these Choice schools just don’t have the capacity to dedicate people to be mentors. That’s where we come in.”

For more information about the Concordia Teaching and Learning Academy, visit the website here.

In the media

Concordia’s Dean of Education Dr. Jim Pingel joined Wisconsin Public Radio’s Morning Show to talk about the new program. Click on the image below to hear the segment.

Want in?

At Concordia University Wisconsin, we seek to meet learners where they are, creating innovative lifelong learning opportunities that provide high-impact, flexible, accessible, transformational learning experiences for all through their life span—whether a youth, young adult, working professional or those on their retirement journey—in accordance with and advancement of Concordia’s mission.