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Mia's Story: Why Alternative Certification Matters

Upon entering her first year of college, Mia was never aware of the systemic inequities within our education system and how they would play the largest role in the trajectory of her life. The residual effects

Mia O'Suji co-founded and launched CTAPP in 2019.

of these systemic challenges led Mia to obtain a bachelor of arts degree in English with a minor in education. By pursuing a career in education, she envisioned herself eradicating structural barriers hindering Black and Latinx students in low-income communities from having access to a high-quality education. 


Although Mia studied education in her undergraduate program, she chose to join the mission of Teach for America where she relocated to Houston, TX to serve as an 8th grade English teacher for a public charter school in the area. While Mia attributes much of her and her students’ successes to her undergraduate program and Teach for America, she also credits her growth as a first year teacher to the ongoing training and support she received from a local Alternative Certification Program (ACP). The development she received consisted of intensive pre-service training, frequent observations and feedback from an instructional coach, and face-to-face professional development opportunities. 


It is stories like Mia’s that support the vision and mission of The Center for Transforming Alternative Preparation Pathways (CTAPP). CTAPP believes that all prospective teacher candidates deserve equitable, high-quality preparation both prior to and during their first year in the classroom. Though many educators still choose traditional, four-year, university-based teacher preparation programs, a majority of Texas’s newest teachers opt to complete an alternative route to educator certification. Since 2015, the percentage of total new teacher candidates enrolling in ACPs has increased from 70% to 75% in 2017-’18 (US DOE, Title 2 data). Given that Texas certifies more new teachers annually than any other state (over 22,000 in 2017-'18) and that Texas teacher candidates are more likely to enroll in ACPs, this has created a robust, yet efficient, pipeline for individuals looking to enter the teaching field.


For many candidates, alternative certification routes serve as a bridge between theory and practice—helping those with undergraduate degrees practically secure the necessary training and skills to enter the classroom without an education degree. For others, ACPs present an opportunity to explore a new career that will impact the lives of future generations of Texans. For those novice teachers like Mia, ACPs offer critical on-the-job support and coaching to propel student results forward. Though each candidate brings unique lived experiences to an ACP, they all possess a common goal: to learn new skills and provide a public service to better support the students and communities where they will teach.


Within Waco, several pathways exist to achieve alternative certification through McLennan Community College. Candidates can opt for MCC’s own ACP program or participate in programs from Tarleton State University and Texas Tech University at the University Center at MCC. Whatever pathway candidates choose, CTAPP exists to ensure that their preparation is top-notch; and soon, these teacher candidates will be filling classrooms around the Waco community to better serve the PK-12 student populations who deserve excellent educators.


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©2019 by CTAPP: Center for Transforming Alternative Preparation Pathways.