Special to The Leader
The Orange Leader
While looking for a grant to boost college enrollment, Dr. Sheila Joyner, Vice President of Academic Affairs in 2001 for Lamar State College-Orange, found a grant that helped dust off the dream for over 1,000 local residents who became public school teachers.
The Texas Workforce Commission and Inland presented LSC-O with a $435,333 skills development grant that paid the tuition of most of the beginning participants in the Accelerated Certification for Educators Program. Now after 13 years the ACE Program will officially close next year. The state and students have been notified that the last day for the ACE Program will be August 31, 2014, according to long time program coordinator and division director Brenda Mott. She will retire from Lamar State College-Orange at the end of August 2013.
The Accelerated Certification for Educators Program was approved by the State Board of Education Commission on March 2, 2001. The ACE Program began immediately with three math students who were career changers holding a bachelor degree and wanted to become certified Texas public school teachers.
The first students were Edward Moss of Orange, Karen Manette Bellard of High Island and Julie Launey of Beaumont. The first instructors for the ACE Program were Ken Wernig, Margaret Duchamp, Lydia Bahnsen and Dorraine Babcock. By the fall of 2001 there were students pursing special education and trades and industrial certifications. In 2004 the first master reading certification class was held and over 30 educators earned their master certificate. That year Mott chaired the Texas Community College Consortium for Teacher Education Programs. The program eventually offered eighteen different certification areas and three master certifications.
Mott was a former math teacher at Orangefield and Little Cypress-Mauriceville school districts for 18 years. She began her career at Lamar State College-Orange in 1994 as an adjunct math instructor and left to teach Algebra I at LC-M CISD.
In 2000 she returned to LSC-O as an adjunct instructor of developmental math and began working for the Texas Workforce Commission grant to put the curriculum together for the ACE Program. Mott was then hired full time by the college to oversee the math and science division. She later became the director of the Education Division that was later renamed the College Success Division.
Mott oversaw the ACE Program, the dual credit program for high school juniors and seniors, the Associate of Arts in Teaching program which began in 2005, the college success courses, which are new to the Orange campus and developmental courses in math, writing and reading.
The ACE Program began with a spark and five years later in 2005 had certified more than 500 men and women. A major factor influencing the structure of any teaching certification program was the United States Department of Education. One piece of legislation in particular, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, brought change and revision to the teaching profession across the county.
By 2008 the ACE Program had certified over 800 new teachers and received high marks from the Texas Education Agency site visit which evaluated the program. Several commendations were received after they reviewed documents that outlined the ACE Program and included documentation on participants, curriculum and the mentoring program. The program was in compliance in five different areas with all five receiving commendations.
“We had a passion for the profession and strived for quality in the classroom”, said Mott.
The ACE Program continued to grow and by 2009 there were over forty-eight Texas school districts that had an intern or student teacher who was from the ACE Program. The program awarded interns of the month and began customized training for area school districts which included workshops for teacher who teach gifted and talented students, a mentoring program for teachers in their second year of teaching, received Teacher Quality Grants for math teachers, hosted novice teacher boot camps, hosted the Future Teachers of America annual conventions, hosted job fairs for teachers, initiated the Teachers of Tomorrow group for on campus Associate of Arts in Teaching students, conducted special classes on how to motivate children to read and substitute teacher trainings, just to name a few.
The ACE Program hosted a special presentation in 2008 where Dr. Harry Wong of California, author of “First Days of School” came to Orange at The Lutcher Theater to lecture area novice teachers about “How to be a successful and effective teacher” in the classroom. Over 700 teachers from area schools attended the lecture. By the summer of 2013 the ACE Program has certified 1, 502 teachers.
Mott plans to continue working with students through the Communities in Schools organization. She also plans to play golf at least once a week and enjoy her family and granddaughters. Mott said “I will miss my friends at LSC-O but I am very excited about the next adventures in my life.”