A convenient career change

After working for more than five years after graduating, do you feel like you need a change? You love teaching youth, and would love a career in secondary education, but you just don't know how to get there? Thanks to a collaborative effort between UNI, Iowa State University and the University of Iowa, you now have the opportunity to receive your teachers' license through an online program, and occasional face-to-face meetings, called RAPIL (Regents Alternative Pathway to Iowa Licensure).

Classroom of students

A traditional license takes four years to complete, an M.A. license takes two years, and RAPIL only takes a total of 19 months. The online classes allow you to continue working full-time while taking classes, so essentially wherever you have a laptop and internet access, you can get your education.

"The three state universities held meetings beginning in 2008 at the request of the Iowa Department of Education to determine if an alternative pathway to licensure could be provided to help alleviate the teacher shortage on the secondary levels that Iowa was experiencing," said Susan Fischer, RAPIL coordinator. "A research team provided numerous alternative pathways from other states and determined that a collaborative effort with the three state universities would be beneficial."

After an abundance of this research was completed, the pilot RAPIL program was launched in the fall of 2010 after receiving the Board of Regents and Iowa Department of Education's approval.

RAPIL is split up into a 19-month program. The first 10 months includes 15 credit hours of education coursework, and the second nine months are a teacher internship. With this program, students will conduct 60 hours of field experience before their internship to expand their knowledge, skills and dispositions in teaching in their area of expertise. The benefit of doing an internship is the opportunity to serve as a teacher with all of the rights, responsibilities, salary and benefits of a regular faculty member. After a successful 19 months of education, students are then recommended by RAPIL for an Iowa Initial teaching license, to be approved by the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners.

"The program selects professionals who demonstrate passion, commitment, enthusiasm and integrity along with successful work experience to learn the knowledge and skill of teaching," said Fischer.

So, why choose the RAPIL program over a traditional education? A traditional license takes four years to complete, an M.A. license takes two years, and RAPIL only takes a total of 19 months. The online classes allow you to continue working full-time while taking classes, so essentially wherever you have a laptop and internet access, you can get your education. Since the first completion of the program in 2012, 91 interns have become successful teachers and received positions everywhere from Ankeny to Waukee. The program continues to grow each year and has filled many schools' needs, especially in the STEM content areas.

Here are a few testimonials from people associated with the RAPIL program:

"I am so impressed with the RAPIL students that you have allowed me to work with these past two years," said Jim, outside evaluator. "The interns are much more mature which helps improve their classroom management," said Mark, a principal.

"This is the most rewarding and challenging decisions I have made," said Tracy, intern. "The program is effective. I am really happy with it. The content is down-to-earth and useful. It is not the dry college theory that doesn't relate," said Shawn, an intern.

If you are interested in applying for the RAPIL program, or would like to receive some more information, go to www.iowateacherintern.org, or contact Susan Fischer, RAPIL coordinator, at susan.fischer@uni.edu.

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