PSEA Begins to Offer New Professional Certification

Category:  News
Wednesday, April 6th, 2016 at 11:35 PM
PSEA Begins to Offer New Professional Certification by Macala Leigey

Students enrolled in the education program at Edinboro University now have the opportunity to stand out in their profession.

Just this year, Edinboro University’s education program partnered with the Pennsylvania State Education Association to adapt the Professional Certificate Initiative. The Professional Certificate Initiative allows students to go “beyond” the standard requirements in the education field by receiving a certificate of accomplishment awarded by the PSEA.

PSEA is one of the largest Act 48 providers, which requires professional educators to re-certify their professional development accreditation every five years. "If you have a teaching certificate, you have to keep your certificate active with professional development — 180 hours,” PSEA Assistant Director for Education Services Dr. Chris Clayton said.

To receive a PSEA certificate before entering the education profession, students must attend a series of workshops and presentations, which will aid students in the transition from college to the classroom and their professional development as an educator.

“One of the things that a new educator needs to do when they’re applying for a position is to present a portfolio, and often times one of the areas they [students] are lacking in is professional development. This [PSEA certification] gives them documentation. This [PSEA certification] is professional development that will be put in their portfolios,” Early Childhood and Reading Department Chairperson Dr. Mary Melvin said.

Clayton added to Melvin’s comment, by saying, “If that’s what you’re already going to be doing as a teacher in the field, why not document the professional development you’re already engaged in.”

Clayton encourages students to take advantage of this certification opportunity now, rather than after entering the educational workforce.

“It could be anything from preparing to become a guidance counselor, a social worker, to [an] elementary or secondary teacher. Anything [where] you’re a student preparing to get a professional education certificate.”

Clayton also mentioned that Melvin and assistant professor in early childhood and reading, Dr. Linda Best, are two of the “driving forces” at Edinboro University, contributing to establishing the PSEA certification initiative.

“We are breaking new ground in the school of education with the process of documenting the professional development of pre-service teachers. Our future teachers will now be able to enter the workforce with advanced professional preparation that will set them apart as high quality candidates. This will help them as they prepare to enter a competitive job market,” Best said.

Edinboro University is the first university in the state system of higher education to create professional certificates for its future teachers. The PSEA certification is available for both graduate and undergraduate students.

“Student PSEA really is designed to be a meaningful supplement to universities that are preparing future teachers,” Clayton said.

Clayton also shared that student PSEA has four key areas that it focuses on constantly developing: community service, political action and advocacy, membership and leadership, and professionalism.

“I think there’s a natural partnership there with universities that are preparing teachers. PSEA represents 438 of the 500 school districts in the state of Pennsylvania. So if you’re a university preparing students to be educators, it’s a really nice partnership to have,” Clayton said.

Melvin added to Clayton’s statement, by saying, “It’s [student PSEA] a way for our students to network with professionals, and what we try to do is share with them the benefits of being a member of student PSEA. One of them being this new certificate of participation.”

Melvin continued by stating the importance of students achieving the PSEA professional development certification. “This certification says to an employer, ‘I went beyond just attending classes. I spent time networking with professionals.’ It shows an educator that you’re going beyond.”

Although the Professional Certificate Initiative program is new to Edinboro, Melvin shared that the education department has high expectations for the program’s future.

“We’re hoping that once this [PSEA certification initiative] gets finalized, that this can be done more so. We’re looking at maybe twice a month [and] possibly doing some online. We’re going to try to be offering all modes of delivery to do the participation.”

Clayton also mentioned his long-term goal for the program. “Within a year or two, [we want to] have at the national level a credentialing system for all 50 states.”

For more information about the PSEA Professional Certificate Initiative, or how to join the student PSEA program, visit PSEA.org.

Macala Leigey is the News Editor for The Spectator and she can be reached at eupnews.spectator@gmail.com

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