Partnerships with COD, Waubonsee give teacher candidates more "face time" with students

Partnerships with COD, Waubonsee give teacher candidates more "face time" with students
August 26, 2008

Phil Brozynski, Media Relations Manager
(630) 829-6094

The daughter of a nuclear engineer with a master’s degree in environmental engineering, Daria Pennington nevertheless found little satisfaction in her career as an environmental consultant. “It wasn’t fulfilling enough,” she said. “I don’t think I was cut out for the engineering field.” Pennington found her calling after working as a substitute teacher at Aurora West High School last semester. But to realize her goal of becoming a full-time teacher, she had to be certified in Illinois. So she enrolled in the Alternative Teacher Certification Program in Science and Mathematics at Benedictine University. The program consists of eight weeks of intensive educational training followed by one year of supervised employment at a middle school or high school. Illinois will grant certification to teach science or mathematics in grades 6-12 to those individuals who successfully complete the program. The program is designed for individuals who have earned at least a bachelor’s degree in science, mathematics or engineering, possess five years of science, math or engineering-related work experience and are interested in teaching in grades 6-12. Recently, the Benedictine Alternative Teacher Certification Program formed partnerships with the College of DuPage and Waubonsee Community College that provide teaching candidates “face-time” with high school students taking courses at the community colleges during the summer. “The feedback from our staff has been very positive,” said Ann Hawkinson, coordinator of high school programming at College of DuPage. “Our staff members really enjoy working with the teaching candidates from Benedictine University because they get their hands dirty right away,” Hawkinson added. “They jump in and help instead of just observing. Our staff and the high school students really like the interaction.” Pennington served her “pre-clinical” experience at the College of DuPage working with Neuqua Valley High School physics teacher Bart Carbonneau. “He is very energetic,” Pennington said. “Working with him gave me some great ideas.” Pennington will return to Aurora West this fall to teach physics and environmental science. “I was so nervous when I started working as a substitute teacher,” she said. “I had nightmares. But after two days, I knew I was in the right place.” The alternative certification program evolved from a partnership between Benedictine University and the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) to offer a unique, problem-based alternative teacher certification program to prepare highly qualified individuals to teach science and mathematics in grades 6-12. Nine candidates completed the program during its initial year in 2001. This summer, 29 candidates completed the eight-week intensive program and have accepted positions in various school districts throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. Overall, in eight years the program has prepared more than 200 teachers in math and science. For more information about the Alternative Teacher Certification Program, contact John Zigmond, Ed.D. in the College of Education and Health Services at (630) 829-1364.


Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 10,000 students in 56 undergraduate and 19 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the sixth consecutive year in 2016. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, admissions@ben.edu or visit ben.edu.