Many college students have one goal after graduation – to find a job.
UM’s School of Education and Human Development is offering students a real advantage in today’s tough economy with the professional training option (PTO) minor.
The Florida Department of Education developed the PTO, an 18-credit minor that gives non-education majors the opportunity to become certified secondary school teachers (grades 6-12) in the state of Florida.
“PTO is a wonderful opportunity to have a back-up plan after college,” said Gina Astorini, director of undergraduate academic services and PTO advisor. “Especially since jobs are scarce, this gives students a path to their professional careers.”
Students need to have a teachable major to be declared as a PTO minor, which has been offered since 2007. Teachable subjects include English, math, science, social studies, foreign languages and fine arts.
A student’s major, however, does not have to be specifically in English or science. The student would need to have general knowledge of the teachable subject in order to sit for the certification exam.
Senior Nicola Gonsalves was in secondary education, but switched to the PTO minor because it gave her the opportunity to major in psychology and math, and still become a teacher.
“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “I have a passion for it, and I like to take something that seems so difficult and make it simpler to understand. With the PTO, I was able to pick up psychology because I thought it would be good to know for a teaching career.”
Students can complete the minor within three consecutive semesters and then take the Florida Teacher Certification Exam and appropriate Subject Area Exam.
Upon passing the FTCE, the graduate receives a two-year temporary license to teach in Florida. After one year of teaching, the individual can apply for the five-year permanent license.
“It’s a great add-on for students who are far along in their major and would like to consider teaching after they graduate, but don’t necessarily have the time to complete a double major,” said Miriam Lipsky, manager of the school’s Project Include, a federally-funded program that prepares teachers to instruct and support children with special needs.