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May 22, 2003

Students part of a cutting-edge program that allowed them to earn a teaching credential from San Francisco State University while never actually attending classes on campus are now searching for jobs.

The 57 soon-to-be-teachers were novices of the innovative program between SFSU and Cañada College in Redwood City that allowed students to complete their coursework at the community college with University faculty members.

What made the program so attractive to students living or working on the Peninsula was the chance to avoid long commutes or traffic and parking at SFSU.

"I’ve always wanted to teach and what a great second career," said Debbi Curran, who worked in telecommunications for 31 years before taking an early retirement package in 2001. "What made the program so enticing was the fact that I live in Redwood City and the school was practically at my back door. Having worked in the corporate world for so long, traveling to and from a University was not what I wanted."

Curran recently completed her student teaching at Roosevelt Elementary School in Redwood City and submitted applications at various districts on the Peninsula. By the end of the summer she hopes to receive a job offer but with the state’s dismal budget woes she knows her wait could be longer.

The idea behind the SFSU-Cañada partnership -- started in 2001 and now a national model -- was to offer University students four-year college degree and graduate programs along with faculty expertise. In addition to the credential program, upper-division classes now offered at Cañada by SFSU faculty include child and adolescent development and business administration.

"It’s always a joyful time when students achieve their academic goals. Knowing that amid all of the bureaucracy of higher education we were able to remove barriers to these students' success is a triumph for us all," said Gail Whitaker, associate vice president of academic program development. "It especially speaks well for the faculty, whose dedication, flexibility and pioneer spirit were crucially important."

Over the two years about 33 faculty members from the College of Education traveled about 30 minutes south down the freeway to Cañada to teach classes.

News about the program is spreading and currently there are 173 students enrolled in teacher credentialing courses.

"Many of the students in the SFSU credential programs tell me that they would probably not be able to complete their credentials without this program. The fact that they can attend high quality classes so close to home makes all the difference," said Vera Lane, coordinator of the Cañada College credentialing program and an education professor at the University since 1966. "They can eliminate long commutes, parking is easy and the CSU fees are more affordable than other programs. They also really appreciate the fact that they take all the courses together as a group and develop camaraderie and close bonds."

The success of the Cañada program has inspired the University to look at other two-year colleges where similar arrangements could be established. The University is now discussing a possible partnership with College of Marin.

Read the San Mateo County Times story on the program.

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Last modified May 22, 2003, by the Office of Public Affairs