Teacher prep extended, Gillette to leave

Juniors in the Teacher Preparation Program have regained the opportunity to complete their certification next year, but the program will lose its director at the end of the semester.

Students said Jack Gillette, who directs both the undergraduate teaching program and Urban Education Studies Master’s Program, announced to his “Observation” class on Tuesday that he has received other job offers and plans to leave Yale at the end of the year. Those in Teacher Preparation courses said they are not surprised by his departure, since his program will end in 2012 , but they are disappointed to see him go.

“It kind of sucks because he’s a great teacher and he won’t be able to see me through the program,” said Tom James ’12.

After a November announcement that the program would end before juniors could achieve certification sparked protest, Yale College Dean Mary Miller e-mailed students in mid-December to say that the classes would continue long enough to see current juniors through to graduation. James said he will still pursue certification next year, but he may be the only one.

Both Nico Casasanto ’12 and Mary Zou ’12 had planned to be certified, but after they learned from Gillette in November that the program would end this spring, they changed their plans for their undergraduate careers.

“I came to accept the decision and became content with what I saw as the silver lining: newfound freedom in my schedule and the ability to explore other options,” Casasanto said.

Neither Casasanto, James or Zou know of any other students who are seeking certification, and Gillette did not respond to e-mails or phone calls Monday.

Yale College Dean Mary Miller, who would not confirm that Gillette is departing, said faculty would be in place to make sure the program continues through 2012.

“What we offer depends on what [subjects] students want to get certified in,” she said, adding that she does not yet have the specifics on which students are getting certified.

Students on the task force trying to save the program are concerned that Gillette’s departure will leave a hole that cannot be filled. Kaitlyn Newell ’12, who is leading the task force along with Brian Bills ’11, said without the Teacher Preparation Program, Yale has little ability to recruit talented faculty to teach courses on education.

Bills said Yale should have an institutionalized program that could not be cut because of budget crunch – either an education center, a laboratory school, or an education department.

Miller said she looks forward to hearing these proposals from the task force, but it is unlikely that the University will spend money on such a program any time soon, especially with so few students pursuing certification.

But Bills and Newell point out that education courses are popular among students. Matthew Matera ’03 LAW ’11 said about 125 people applied to his residential college seminar entitled “Solving America’s Education Crisis,” and John Starr said he decided to offer an extra section of his course, “Public Schools and Public Policy,” because of high demand. Starr said he thinks all three of the task force’s proposals are good ideas, adding that the most feasible is an education center with an associated laboratory school.

Four of five students interviewed who are not in the Teacher Preparation Program said they wish there were more courses about education at Yale.

“I am considering a career in education, and I’ve been trying to see which options exist, and there aren’t very many,” said Austin Haynesworth ’14.

No members of the class of 2011 are pursuing certification in the Teacher Preparation Program this year.

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