One Less Headache: Solving the Dual Credit Instructor Dilemma

President of HEI

Dr. Mary Landon Darden is President of HEI, LLC. She served in education administration for 20 years and last served as a university center dean in San Antonio, TX. Darden is the author of a book co-published with the American Council on Education and Rowman and Littlefield titled Beyond 2020: Envisioning the Future of Universities in America.

A few years ago, when I was serving as a university center dean, we offered a small number of dual credit options to a private local high school.  We struggled to make this happen, mainly because of the difficulty in finding and scheduling instructors.  Our regular college classes were scheduled one night per week for anywhere from 5-10 weeks (5-10 total meetings).  In order to fit our college classes into the high school schedule, we had to build our classes in 40-50-minute segments, five days per week, for 15 weeks (75 total meetings).

There is a great and increasing demand for dual credit classes across the country. The problem, of course, is: How do you find a qualified instructor who is willing to drive to a high school to teach 75 class-meetings for one course for the same wage they receive from teaching 5-10 times (although each class is 3-4 hours)?  Simply calculating the average gasoline usage alone burned up the paycheck.  Needless to say, this was not an easy hurdle to overcome.

The only viable solution was to either find qualified instructors within the school (with a Master’s Degree and at least 18-graduate hours in the dual-credit subject area) or find someone with the same credentials who lived or worked close by the school and was willing to make that enormous commitment.  We ended up offering only a handful of classes during my five-years at the university.

One day, at a lunch meeting with one of the Vice Presidents of the Alamo College System (which has more than 60,000 students), I asked what the system’s greatest needs were.  She said that one of their extreme needs was to find a way to bring high-school teachers up to the qualifying masters level, where they could then teach dual credit. She said that finding a college that could flexibly and affordably meet this need would be a huge help for high schools and community colleges.

I eventually found a university that offered an online Masters of Education with the 18 graduate hours in the disciplines of English, Science, Social Studies, and Instructional Technology that cost less than $17,000 for the entire program (Which is much less than the national average and most people use federal financial aid to attend – find extensive information on college pricing and financial aid at trends.collegeboard.org and  www.FinAid.org).

Now, we are getting the word out.  If you need some help preparing more dual credit instructors for your college, give Wayland Baptist University a call at: 210-202-1104.  Or, you may visit  www.wbumed.org

Other universities are now becoming aware of this increasing need.  I believe, as do many other administrators in higher education, that colleges and universities should be more directly connected – and rapidly responsive to – the needs of businesses, communities, organizations and even global educational needs.  We need to make a habit of asking the important questions and finding ways to fill the many emerging needs.

How One Nonprofit is Helping Grads Launch Their Careers Through Helping Others

    Journalism professor

    Robert F. Darden is a Professor of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media at Baylor University. His most recent books, Nothing But Love In God’s Water: Volumes 1 & 2, are available on Amazon.

    The New York Times featured an intriguing story on May 22, “Some College Advice from a Peer,” about a nonprofit organization, College Advising Corps (CAC), that places recent graduates in public high schools as full-time advisers.

    The need is certainly there – state and local budget cuts have decimated the ranks of college counselors. The CAC’s goal is to “break down the social, economic and psychological barriers that keep low-income rural students from having a shot at the elite range” of American universities.

    According to the article, by Anemona Hartocollis, most low-income kids rely on their parents for college advice, even though many of those parents don’t have a lot of experience themselves. As a result, lots of bright kids end up in “colleges that are less rigorous than they can handle.”

    Frankly, college is hard enough – working your way through the myriad forms for scholarships, medical releases, high transcripts, dual-credit approvals, admissions – that getting no advice is sometimes better than bad or inadequate advice. As a university professor, I see it all the time. Too often, students are relying on hearsay, the limited experiences of friends or family members, or (worse) something they read on the Internet. “Fake news” is not just something found in the political arena, believe me!

    CAC especially likes hiring graduates who “resemble” the students they’re hoping to help – black, Hispanic and/or from low-income backgrounds. The CAC salaries ain’t great, but there is some money dedicated to tuition loan reduction. And, by all accounts, the program is working.

    The trouble is, of course, it is a very small program – with about 600 advisers in as many schools, with about a third in rural areas. There are still hundreds of thousands of deserving students who will receive little or no college counseling across the U.S.

    In a perfect world, every potential college student would receive plenty of useable, up-to-the-minute advice. And because of the often dizzying class credit requirements at most universities, they would continue to receive high quality advising through their college careers.

    My own university, Baylor, has a large cadre of well-trained advisers. Baylor needs them, too. The school is expensive (as are most private universities) and has an uncommon number of credit hours required to graduate – with the low end being 124 hours. That means if a student makes a single mistake in scheduling, changes majors, or even makes an error in math, I could see them an extra semester or two. This isn’t a big deal for some kids. But for others, the ones the CAC is working with, an extra semester could be prohibitively expensive.

    That’s not to mention the fact that the average age of college students is rising, as more and more nontraditional students are entering college later and later. At some schools, seeing classes composed mostly of women in their late thirties with a child or two is the norm, not the exception.  These non-trad students come with their own sets of needs and advising issues.

    All of that to say, God bless the CAC, but double blessings on the thousands of over-worked high school counselors who are on the front lines of American education. They deal daily with crises of health, crises at home, the wildly divergent needs and expectations of schools from dozens of backgrounds, and wide, almost insurmountable gaps in income and expectations.

    You guys are the real heroes.

    Creative, Playing Children Are Learning to Become More Productive and Thriving Adults

    President of HEI

    Dr. Mary Landon Darden is President of HEI, LLC. She served in education administration for 20 years and last served as a university center dean in San Antonio, TX. Darden is the author of a book co-published with the American Council on Education and Rowman and Littlefield titled Beyond 2020: Envisioning the Future of Universities in America.

    One of the most talented and caring child-care leaders I know is Mimi Zylinski. She runs a creative, fun, ambitious learning program to mostly preschoolers in Vermont. I remember her defending “play” for children by saying, “Play is children’s work.” Although a seemingly simple statement, I remember that it struck me at the time as an “Aha!” moment. I thought, of course, in order to learn to work well as an adult, we have to learn to play well as children.

    I know that Mimi meant this statement to mean more than simply “getting along” or “playing well with others.” She very intentionally infuses the day with various creative endeavors, like finger-painting, cooking and baking, planting and harvesting food from a garden, daily craft time; and, of course, running, playing, climbing in the beautiful green space that surrounds the daycare.

    When I held my first administrative position at a community college in Texas, one of the areas I became responsible for was Kids’ College — a summer program predominantly for elementary school age children. When I worked to enhance and develop the program, I observed and asked questions about what children needed and wanted. I watched what engaged children in our own programs. I noticed that playtimes at the public schools had been minimized and more time was spent doing worksheets to prepare for testing. There was only one art teacher assigned to a whole district of elementary students, yet the students in our program seemed to crave art-time. It is clear that the arts in public schools are being minimized in order to maximize test preparation.

    Therefore, I set up a few parameters for Kids College, including that there would be no testing or work sheets. We would ask our teachers to infuse art, creativity, exploration and imagination into every possible area of our programs. Together, we developed courses like Storytelling, where children read books, created a story from books or their own imagination, wrote a play from that story, and used real costumes and props to act out those plays. From this, they became better readers, better writers and better presenters – and isn’t that what most of us need to do as adults?

    We hired teachers who had hands-on experience in the creative and knowledge areas and were passionate about what they did. We had a Junior EMT course where students were able to ride in an ambulance to the emergency room, observe medical professionals acting our what might happen in ER, board a medivac helicopter that landed on our campus and talk to the people that rescue people by flight. We had raku pottery, fused glass jewelry, painting, theatre, and various music-related classes, including guitar and musical theatre. We had Outdoor Adventures, where the children were able to canoe, explore and work with the flora and fauna our enormous park area. They built and launched rockets, and met scientists from NASA in Aerospace.

    The children thrived. They were excited, enthusiastically engaged and we had almost no injuries or incidents, despite the 1800 class enrolments we had the last summer I served in that capacity. When children are doing things they love (and of course, learning at the same time), they do not act out in ways they might when they are bored or being forced into tedious repetition.

    I love it when I hear stories from Silicon Valley where play and activities are often infused even into adult problem-solving and teamwork. The success there appears to be evident.

    I am an unwavering, whole-hearted believer in creative play. We must find ways to front-load creativity, art, exploration and imagination into as many areas of study and activity as possible. We need to explore minimizing our testing requirements, which seem to place enormous pressure on students, teachers, and administrators. When people love what they are doing, they tend to do it more. Tapping into the sparks of creative gifts and talents and fanning those flames should be clear pathways to a more productive and fulfilling adult life.

    We need to also find ways for students to be physically active in as many of those activities as possible. Igniting the spark and excitement of learning by creative endeavors and problem-solving is the best way insure that we will one day have a population of adults that will enthusiastically do the same.

    Like Mimi knows, we learn to work well as adults by playing well as children.

    Question: What are some ways you incorporate play into your daily classroom experience? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

    Is There a Place for Feminism in the Classroom?

    President of HEI

    Dr. Mary Landon Darden is President of HEI, LLC. She served in education administration for 20 years and last served as a university center dean in San Antonio, TX. Darden is the author of a book co-published with the American Council on Education and Rowman and Littlefield titled Beyond 2020: Envisioning the Future of Universities in America.

    I picked this up from my sister in law when we were discussing how to talk about feminism in our college classrooms. Write the word the word “equality” on the board and ask the coed class I taught: “Who believes in this principle?” Almost without fail, 100% of my class of 15 students would raise their hands.

    Then, I would take a few steps to the side and write next the word “feminism” and asked: “How many of you believe in this principle?” I would often only have one or two hands go up.

    The major risk factors that “can” indicate dyslexia

    Discussions on dyslexia, Part 2

    This post is by Dana Ross Stanke. She is a Reading Interventionist, who lives and teaches in Waco, Texas.

    In my last blog, I talked about how dyslexia is defined, as well as risk factors to look for in the birth to pre-school years. In this blog I will discuss the risk factors to look for in the early schooling years (K-2) as well as some research based interventions that can be used with ALL students, but are especially important for those who struggle to learn to read and write.

    The best way to get kids excited to learn? Give them a story

      Journalism professor

      Robert F. Darden is a Professor of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media at Baylor University. His most recent books, Nothing But Love In God’s Water: Volumes 1 & 2, are available on Amazon.

      It’s all about the story.

      Since the dawn of humanity, we human beings have learned – in great part – by the stories we’ve been told.

      What principals LOVE to see in a classroom

      This post is by Sherrell Coleman, an educational administrator. She holds a masters in public administration.

      As an educational administrator in the K-12 arena, the classroom is home to 80% of my day. It is the very environment where my skills and abilities to coach, mentor and hone in on my expertise “of great teaching” comes to life. 

      I find that the classroom possibilities — what is actually revealed – are endless.  Gone are the days of the traditional chalk board, textbook “sit & get” from direct teaching models.

      Looking for Dr. Right

      Board Members on What They Look for In a Superintendent

      By Charles Boyd (president of the Board of Trustees of Valley Mills ISD) and David Schleicher (a former president of the Waco ISD Board), both in their personal capacities.

      School districts can vary as much as the student populations that inhabit them and the towns that host them. There are nonetheless common elements to what many school boards look for in the superintendents that lead them. With one of us serving in a smaller rural district and the other having served in a mid-sized urban district, and both having taken part in superintendent searches, we collectively came up these five characteristics that we believe are central to the finding the right candidate.

      This one aspect is the sure-fire entryway to success

      President of HEI

      Dr. Mary Landon Darden is President of HEI, LLC. She served in education administration for 20 years and last served as a university center dean in San Antonio, TX. Darden is the author of a book co-published with the American Council on Education and Rowman and Littlefield titled Beyond 2020: Envisioning the Future of Universities in America.

      I like to think of the cover of a book as a doorway and a computer screen a potential window, into knowledge, understanding, discovery, adventure and insight.

      I watch as my grandchildren are constantly pulled to the computer screen to play games.  They love the challenge.  They seem driven to accomplish the next level and, at times, become frustrated when they do not succeed. They are 100% engaged in this seemingly all or nothing contest.  It is sometimes a challenge to move them from the game to a book, although once they do, their face transforms.