Local teachers looking to further their careers and improve their skills will soon have to look no further than their own school system to do so.
The city's public schools and Endicott College have created a partnership which will bring Endicott's Regional Teaching Center to Haverhill. The program will allow teachers and other interested local residents to take courses so they can receive a master's degree.
"We thought that this would be a great fit for Haverhill," said James Scully, superintendent of Haverhill schools. "There are many colleges that do this, but we thought that the administration and graduate school at Endicott are in line with what we were trying to accomplish in Haverhill.''
The program, starting in the fall, will offer a master in education degrees in two teaching fields — special education and reading and literacy. The two-year program will consist of 12 six-week courses. The courses will meet once a week for about four hours per classroom session. The classes will be held nights or on weekends so people who are busy during the day have time to complete a degree.
"We are targeting people who are paraprofessionals who have interest and talent with working with kids," said Marge Silvestri, an admissions recruiter and marketing assistant at Endicott College who works with local regional teaching centers.
"Parents themselves just haven't been able to complete this opportunity, because traveling isn't convenient,'' she said of teachers and other residents who have children and want to take classes like these. "Now they will have the opportunity. People will be able to walk down the street and make their dreams come true."
Endicott plans to offer a degree in special education because that has become vital in today's public schools.
"To be marketable as a teacher, there is a need for teachers to have a special education degree to reach the needs of all kids," Silvestri said.
Silvestri's goal for the program is for these regional centers to eventually work closely with businesses. Similar programs provide skills which fit jobs businesses haven't been able to fill, she said.
"My wish is that our teachers center could be more of an education center and assess what the needs are for our businesses," Silvestri said. "If Endicott could somehow dove tail business needs into what skills people need to have, that's where I envision these centers evolving into, where people can go there for the education needed."
The regional teaching center to be located in Haverhill won't offer just masters programs. It will also provide classes toward an undergraduate degree in education. The length of those programs will vary. Haverhill will be the first regional center where Endicott will offer classes toward an undergraduate degree.
Scully said he has been interested for some time in having this kind of program in Haverhill. He said he wants as many teachers as possible to have master's degrees.
"We had a number of teachers that have been going to Endicott for programs and we also have students from Haverhill High that go there," Scully said. "A lot of their programs are really tailored to fit the needs of school systems like Haverhill."
Endicott has several satellite programs throughout the world, with locations in Spain, Bermuda, Switzerland and elsewhere. The college also offers courses serving military and Coast Guard members.