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HERALD ARTICLES
Linda Oppelt

Diocesan Catholic schools to adopt alternative licensure program

By Amy Partain

COLORADO SPRINGS. Catholic schools provide something unique in education for families. Offering more than excellence in academics, Catholic education partners with families to shape the whole student: mind, body and spirit. To effectively do that, teachers must be specially equipped for their teaching positions. Recognizing this, The Unified Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Colorado Springs will offer its teachers an alternative licensure program through the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education.

An alternative to state teaching licensure, the program prepares teachers to “infuse a deeply Catholic philosophy and practice of education into their teaching.” The credential is designed in such a way that it will be recognized by any diocese in the United States as an equivalent to a state teaching license.

Superintendent Sheila Whalen said that she is excited about the possibilities this program will bring to the Unified Catholic Schools of Colorado Springs. With the education profession currently experiencing a transition, Catholic schools are struggling to find traditionally-licensed teachers, she said. While this phenomenon is affecting schools across the country, teachers in Catholic schools have the added responsibility of being trained to provide instruction in the Catholic faith, Whalen said.

“This program allows us to hire individuals who have a passion for Catholic education but need a foundation in the art of education,” Whalen said. “Teaching is both an art and a science, and I think that is even more true in Catholic schools because teachers are helping to shape the souls of the children.”

The program consists of five courses that are taken over an 18-month period. The courses are: “The Virtuous Classroom,” “Pedagogy: Leading from Wonder to Wisdom,” “Trivium: The Mastery of Language,” “Quadrivium: The Harmony of Number,” and “Faith and Reason: The Foundations of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.” Presenting education with a liberal arts focus, teachers learn to develop lessons that encourage students to discover “what is true, good, and beautiful, ordered by the Logos,” according to the program’s informational material.

While including the basics of lesson planning and other foundational tools of education, the program delves deeper than traditional licensure programs. It draws on seven foundations of educational philosophy that are rooted in human nature and can be used at any grade level and across a variety of curricula. It frames classroom management in an understanding of human dignity and destiny.

Whalen said this deeper approach is what drew her to the program. As the program’s information states, “What is taught, then, is in ‘best practices’ in a far truer sense — they are the timeless ways of communicating God’s truth from person to person.”

“Catholic schools need teachers who have a unified foundation in the faith and an understanding of the Catholic intellectual tradition,” Whalen said. “This will allow us to expand our hires and ensure that they are ready for the unique responsibilities of Catholic education.”

The Unified Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Colorado Springs will join the Archdiocese of Denver cohort in the program.

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