Future teachers took a step towards being classroom leaders during their Tarleton Model for Accelerated Teacher Education, or TMATE, classes this summer. With 18 future educators enrolled in the secondary education program and nine enrolled in the elementary education program, TMATE has been staying busy.

Besides keeping up with general coursework, TMATE interns spend a week as head teachers, developing their own curriculum and activities and entertaining a group of students who participate in SAIL, or Summer Adventures In Learning. Both educator and student collide in a conglomeration of fun activities and knowledge for three weeks during the summer.

These students, many of whom participate in the program thanks to scholarships, get three weeks of classes which are centered around a subject of interest to the head teacher of the week.

For instance, Kyle McCurdy, 48, who has an agricultural background in his studies, taught a class entitled “Ag is not a drag” during his week as lead teacher. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in education, curriculum and instruction.

“I think the TMATE program accomplishes what it sets out to do. It helps to train people who have real world experience and have come back to school to obtain a teaching certification,” said McCurdy.

The future teachers spend one week as head of the classroom and the other two weeks of SAIL, they help critique their peers. When SAIL is not in session, TMATE participants develop curriculum and study general coursework.

Most TMATE participants are accepted into the program during the spring semester and spend the first summer session developing curriculum. During the second summer semester, they take turns leading classrooms on adventures that range from Native American folklore to pirates of the seven seas.

As long as the programs and studies go as planned, the students will teach the following fall, but under the supervision of both a district mentor and a representative from the TMATE program. 

“There are many certification programs out there, a lot of them online, but I think that Tarleton’s program is very effective,” said Carolyn Hampton, SAIL coordinator. “We have very high standards, but I think that produces high quality teachers.”

After their first year of teaching is complete, those pursuing a secondary certification will have completed the program. Those educators who are going after an elementary certification must complete a few more credit hours during the next fall.

The SAIL program has been in the community for 23 years and has helped TMATE participants earn their certifications by taking the place of student teaching.

TMATE boasts an employment rate of 80-100 percent, but TMATE coordinator, Dr. Steven Harris, admits that this year has been his most challenging.

“I think the hiring will come a little later this year because districts don’t know what their budgets are going to look like yet,” said Harris. “More and more teachers are putting off retirement or family decisions so that they may stay employed, making it harder for first-time teachers to find a job.”

In order to participate in the TMATE program, students must have a bachelor’s degree and a 2.75 grade point average (GPA) in both their area of study and cumulatively.

Despite a few economic setbacks, many still pour into the teaching field to experience some job security. Children will always have to be taught, and these TMATE participants cannot wait to teach them.