Undergraduate Teacher Certification Requirements
Drexel offers a number of education certification and degree programs that prepare students for formal teacher certification. Once a student has successfully completed their undegraduate course of study and all qualifying teacher certification exams required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), Drexel recommends the student to the PDE for the appropriate teaching certificate.
The School of Education requires that students maintain at least a "B" average (3.0 GPA) in content courses needed for teacher certification in addition to earning a grade of "B" or better in each core pedagogy course required for certification.
All undergraduate students are required to obtain and submit updated and current copies of the required clearances to the School of Education annually in order to participate in classroom observations and student teaching in Pennsylvania. All full-time undergraduates will receive assistance in gaining these clearances during their first term. Non-PA students should contact their state's department of education or school district office for a list of clearances required in their state.
This initial certification qualifies a teacher to teach for a maximum of six years. The six years need not be continuous. To continue teaching after the six years are completed, the teacher must receive an Instructional II Certification.
The Instructional II Certification is considered a permanent certification. A teacher applying for Instructional II Certification must have:
The Pennsylvania Educator Certification Tests (PECT) are required for Grades PreK–4 and Special Education. All undergraduate and dual degree BS/MS students are required to pass the Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) basic skills exam. In addition, students will be required to take the appropriate assessment test for each area of certification they wish to obtain.
For more information about examinations and registration:
All undergraduate and dual degree BS/MS students seeking certification in middle (grades 4–8) or secondary (grades 7–12) levels are required to pass exams from the PA Education Certification Tests (PECT) and the Praxis II Series. Students must pass both the Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) basic skills assessment test and the appropriate Praxis II Content Knowledge test for each area of certification they wish to obtain.
For more information about examinations and registration:
To maintain Instructional I and Instructional II Certifications, the PDE requires a teacher to complete one of the following every five years:
Note: For those working to acquire Instructional II Certification, the 24 semester credits or 36 quarter credits needed to apply for Instructional II may also count toward Act 48 requirements.
Download the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Frequently Asked Questions about Act 48 [PDF].
In order to be eligible for Alabama teacher certification, the Alabama State Department of Education requires students in undergraduate and Alternative Master's teacher education programs to complete a series of tests. These tests evaluate students' mastery of content knowledge in a specific certification area (Praxis Subject Assessments); and readiness to teach (Educative Teacher Performance Assessment ( edTPA)). These tests are taken at different points throughout the UAB Teacher Education Program. Please consult the guide below to confirm when the tests should be taken.
In order to receive teacher certification from the Alabama State Department of Education, undergraduate and Alternative Master's students must receive a passing score on the Praxis Subject Assessment in their given certification area. Praxis Subject Assessments are administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS).
Undergraduate Students: (Prior to Student Teaching)
Undergraduate students must receive a passing score as defined by the Alabama State Department of Education on the Praxis Subject Assessment(s) in their given certification area prior to starting student teaching.
* Students pursuing certification in Elementary/Early Childhood are also required to pass the Praxis Teaching reading prior to beginning student teaching.
Alternative Master's Students: (Prior to Admission)
Alternative Masters’ students must receive a passing score as defined by the Alabama State Department of Education on the Praxis Subject Assessments(s) in their given certification area prior to beginning coursework.
* Students pursuing certification in Early Childhood Education or Elementary Education are required to pass the Praxis Teaching reading prior to beginning student teaching.
Qualifying score requirements can be found on the ETS website. To locate the qualifying score for your certification area, follow the steps below.
Visit the ETS website for information about Praxis study resources.
Register for the Praxis Subject Assessment(s)
edTPA is a pre-service assessment process designed by educators that includes a review of a teacher candidate’s authentic teaching materials as the culmination of a teaching and learning process that documents and demonstrates each candidate’s ability to effectively teach his/her subject matter to all students. Candidates must receive a passing score on the assessment as defined by the Alabama State Department of Education.
Undergraduate Students: (edTPA: During Student Teaching)
Undergraduate students must receive a passing score on the edTPA as defined by the Alabama State Department of Education during student teaching.
Alternative Master's Students: (edTPA: During Student Teaching)
Alternative Master's students must receive a passing score as defined by the Alabama State Department of Education during student teaching.
The Post Bachelor’s Baccalaureate Teaching Certification program in Elementary Education (grades PreK-4), Middle Level (grades 4-8), and Secondary Education (grades 7-12) are designed for professionals who hold a bachelor’s degree and who seek to qualify for Pennsylvania state teacher certification at the elementary, middle, or secondary level. Students take courses online that satisfy Pennsylvania teaching certificate requirements while completing the required number of weeks of students teaching. Pennsylvania has reciprocation agreements with nearly every state in the U.S. meaning you can transfer your teaching certificate to another state.
The curriculum for this teacher certificate program at Drexel University is designed for those changing careers into the education field, as well as those who already serve as temporary, emergency, or substitute teachers and wish to earn a formal teaching credential.
Students who wish to complete a master’s degree in Teaching, Learning and Curriculum have the opportunity to transfer the credits earned in the Post Bachelor’s Teaching Certificate into the MS in Teaching, Learning & Curriculum program.
The PA teacher certification program requirements at Drexel University’s School of Education prepares students for a Pennsylvania Instructional I Certificate.
A commonly asked question regarding our programs, is "how long is the teacher certification program"? If you already have a bachelor's degree, the elementary, middle level and secondary education programs typically take two years to complete. Drexel also offers a dual certification option for secondary and special education. A bachelor's degree program typically takes up to 4 years to complete.
The first step towards becoming a K-12 teacher is to earn a bachelor’s degree. If you earn a bachelor’s degree in a program that leads to teaching certification, such as elementary education or teacher education, you will graduate with all the requirements necessary to become a licensed teacher. If your bachelor’s degree is in a non-teaching program, you will need to follow the next steps on this list to complete your educator certification program..
If you already have a bachelor’s degree, you can become a teacher through our teacher certification program. The first step is to determine what subject you would like to teach. Some students choose a subject that reflects their bachelor’s degree experience while others may choose a new subject that they are passionate about.
Once you have decided on a subject, you should enroll in a teacher certification program and focus on your chosen subject. You will complete required coursework for certification and gain the knowledge needed to complete the required Praxis exams.
While you complete your required coursework, you will also gain the required hours of student teaching experience. Most teacher certification programs require 12 weeks of student teaching experience. The School of Education’s Field Placement Office assists students with identifying student teaching opportunities in school districts close to where they live, anywhere in the U.S. and other parts of the world.
Once you have completed your required courses and student teaching experience, you will schedule and sit for your Praxis exams. Passing the required exams is a critical final step to become a certified teacher. Passing the exams will allow you to begin teaching in classrooms on your own. Some school districts may allow emergency certifications to allow teachers who have not completed their exams to teach in their schools for a certain period of time until they can pass the required exams.
Once you have passed the required exams, you will be issued an Instructional I teaching certificate in the state where you took the exams. As a certified teacher, you will be eligible for teaching positions in the subject in which you are certified. You can add additional certifications or complete requirements for an Instructional II teaching certificate as you advance in your career.
Drexel's Post Bachelor's Teaching Certificate in Middle Level (grades 4-8) is ideal for students who would like to teach middle school students in the areas of Math, Science, English, and Social Studies. In addition to gaining knowledge of effective teaching methods, students will also learn how to create culturally responsive pedagogy and create a safe, productive, and positive classroom environment that facilitates learning for all students.
The coursework for a certificate for middle level education consists of 33 credit hours (13 courses) and includes mandatory field-based experiences and 12 weeks of student teaching.
The Post Bachelor's Teaching Certificate for Middle Level (Grades 4-8) curriculum and course descriptions may be found in the Drexel Online Course Catalog.
The Post Bachelor’s Teaching Certificate in Secondary Education (Grades 7-12) is designed for individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree and who seek to qualify for PA state teacher certification at the secondary level. The curriculum is designed for those changing careers as well as those who already serve as temporary, emergency, or substitute teachers and wish to earn a formal teaching credential.
The coursework for a general certificate of secondary education consists of 30 credit hours (11 courses) and includes mandatory field-based experiences and 12 weeks of student teaching.
The Post Bachelor's Teaching Certificate for Secondary Education (Grades 7-12) curriculum and course descriptions may be found in the Drexel Online Course Catalog.
The School of Education offers eight content-specific areas of study each leading to their own certifications with required courses and Praxis exams:
Once a student has successfully completed their course of study and all exams required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), Drexel recommends the student to PDE for issuance of the appropriate teaching certificate.
Pennsylvania’s initial state certification is known as “Instructional I” and is valid for a total of six years (the six years need not be continuous). To continue teaching after six years, teachers must receive an Instructional II Certification.
The Instructional II Certification is considered a “permanent” certification. (It must, however, be renewed every five years through the fulfillment of continuing education requirements.) A teacher applying for Instructional II Certification must have:
The PA Educator Certification Tests (PECT) are required for Elementary Certification (Grades PreK–4). Students are required to take the appropriate exam for each area of certification sought.
For more information about examinations and registration, visit the PA Educator Certification Tests (PECT).
All Post Bachelor’s students seeking certification in Secondary Certification (Grades 7–12) are required to pass the Praxis II Series. Students must pass the appropriate Praxis II Content Knowledge test(s) for each area of certification they wish to obtain.
For more information about examination and registration, please visit the Praxis Series.
To maintain Instructional I and Instructional II Certifications in Pennsylvania, the PDE requires a certified teacher to complete the minimal equivalent of six semester-hour (or nine quarter-hour) credits, 180 professional development hours, or a combination of credits and professional development hours every five years. College credits must be acquired from an accredited four-year, degree-granting college or university.
Note: For those working to acquire Instructional II Certification, the 24 semester credits or 36 quarter credits needed to apply for Instructional II may also count toward Act 48 requirements. Undergraduate credits from a community college may not be counted toward Act 48 credits for Instructional II Certification.
For more information and to apply credits to your state record, visit the PA Department of Education Act 48 Continuing Professional Education.
Drexel University's Post-Bachelor's Teacher Certification courses are offered 100% online. You can get started by filling out the appropriate Drexel Online Application for an online Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Certification:
Updated August 2020
Our graduate and undergraduate programs are recognized by New York State Education Department (NYSED) as “approved teacher preparation program(s)” and as such prepare students to meet the requirements of Initial Certification in Visual Art, Grades Pre-K-12.
This page directs students to certification information but does not replace the State website on certification. It is a student’s responsibility to visit the New York State Office of Teaching Initiatives website to keep abreast of changes to certification requirements and to visit the New York State Teacher Certification Examinations website for all test and submission dates and fees.
In order to be recommended for NYSED Initial/Certification in Visual Arts, Pre-K–12, candidates must have completed the following procedures, workshops and tests as you move through the program so that by the time you have finished your last semester, you will have completed everything you will need to apply for certification.
First, students must open an account with New York State Education Department TEACH System, select Initial or Professional Certification in Visual Art, all grades (Pre-K-12), pay the $50 fee, verify, and update their profiles. Students are responsible for regularly monitoring your TEACH accounts for accuracy. The TEACH account records and verifies your progress towards certification. Instructions for using TEACH online are available here.
The DASA workshop will be offered at Pratt Institute every Fall for current students only. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the date of the next scheduled workshop and to register. If you take the DASA workshop outside of Pratt it must be taken with a provider approved by NYSED and it will be at your own expense.
*Note: The test and test score dates are available from the NYSTCE website. Test Preparation Guides are also available from NYSTCE.
In order to be “recommended” for certification, students must complete an Institutional Recommendation Form (IRF) form prior to graduation. These forms are available from the ADE office (contact Jonell Joshua at email@example.com). Completed forms must be submitted to the ADE office either in person or by mail at the completion of the program/graduation.
Once the completed IRF forms and all supporting documents are approved by the ADE Office, they are turned over to the Registrar for review and the student is then “recommended” for certification. Students who are NOT currently in one of our “approved programs” leading to certification, should contact NYS Office of Teaching Initiatives for more information.
Assistant to the Chair of Art and Design Education
Main building, room 202
200 Willoughby Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205
Teachers College offers a wide variety of educational experiences for teacher education students at the preservice and in-service levels. Programs are field-based, offering practica, internships, and student teaching. Departments offer, for qualified holders of a bachelor’s degree, programs that lead simultaneously to a master’s degree and to eligibility for New York State certification for teaching in elementary or secondary schools, as well as for specific subjects and to special populations (see sections below on additional New York State Department of Education (NYSED) requirements for initial teacher certification). Some of these programs also offer New York State teacher certification with a bilingual extension. The programs typically require a minimum of an academic year and a summer term to complete degree requirements. Applicants need not have included courses in education in their undergraduate programs, but inadequate preparation in the proposed teaching field may necessitate additional coursework to meet admission, certification or graduation requirements.
For a complete list of teacher preparation programs, please go to: http://www.tc.columbia.edu/admissions/areas-of-study/teacher-education-and-teacher-certification/
The Office of Teacher Education (OTE) offers many services to teacher education students and programs at Teachers College. For example, OTE including conducts professional development workshops, provides information regarding certification requirements, offers information sessions on New York State Teacher Certification Exams, and supports students with student teaching requirements. Most importantly, OTE oversees and manages the certification process, recommending candidates for certification once all institutional and NYS requirements are met.
Candidates for initial certification must complete a student teaching experience. This experience may take place in one, two, or even three settings, based on requirements set by NYSED and the student’s TC teacher education program. The student teaching experiences are structured to enable each student teacher to gradually develop pedagogical competence and skill, and typically begin with observation of an experienced cooperating teacher followed by incremental assumption of responsibility as the term progresses. The College provides on-site supervision to ensure that students are well-supported during this component of their teacher preparation program.
Student teachers are required to obtain clearance to commencestudent teaching and to carefully review the “Student Teaching Handbook.” A general orientation to student teaching is offered by OTE in the beginning of each semester. Please go to the “Student Teaching” tab of our website at www.tc.edu/ote for a full list of workshops, packets, and handbooks.
New York State Certification
Teachers College has an array of programs which, upon successful completion, lead to an institutional recommendation for New York State Certification at the initial or professional level. Students enrolled in programs that lead to New York State Certification are responsible for becoming knowledgeable about New York State Certification requirements and regulations. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) mandates the teacher certification requirements that are needed for program completion and graduation. These requirements are listed below.
General Core in Liberal Arts and Sciences. NYSED requires that all students seeking initial certification complete coursework in Mathematics, Science, English, History, and Foreign Language. The number of credits that candidates must complete in these areas varies, depending on certificate title and grade level. These requirements must be satisfactorily met prior to degree conferral. For more information about these General Core Liberal Arts and Sciences requirements, please contact the Office of Teacher Education at 212.678.3502 or go to the Office of Teacher Education Website at www.tc.edu/ote. NYSED requires that all students seeking professional certification hold a valid New York State comparable teaching certificate in the same teaching certificate title and grade level. This requirement must be met prior to degree conferral.
Content Core. NYSED specifies general Content Core requirements according to the certification area. For example, students in the MA program in Mathematics that leads to initial certification (7-12) are required to be Mathematics majors at the undergraduate level or hold 30 credits in pure mathematics. For more information about these content core requirements, please refer to the NYSED website http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert/, the Office of Teacher Education Website at www.tc.edu/ote or call the OTE Office at 212.678.3502.
Child Abuse Identification Workshop. Students may fulfill this requirement at Teachers College by taking a workshop offered through Continuing Professional Studies (CPS) in collaboration with the Office of Teacher Education. For a list of dates and times, please go to the CPS Website at www.tc.edu/cps. Students may also fulfill this requirement at Teachers College by taking HBSS4116, Health Education for Teachers, which is offered by the Department of Health and Behavior Studies. Alternatively, students may opt to take an on-line or in-person workshop offered by approved NYSED vendors. This requirement must be met prior to degree conferral. For information about these workshops, please go to http://www.op.nysed.gov/training/caproviders.htm.
School Violence Intervention and Prevention Workshop. Students may fulfill this requirement at Teachers College by taking a workshop offered through Continuing Professional Studies (CPS) in collaboration with the Office of Teacher Education. For a list of dates and times, please go to the CPS Website at www.tc.edu/cps. Students may also fulfill this requirement at Teachers College by taking HBSS4116, Health Education for Teachers, which is offered by the Department of Health and Behavior Studies. Alternatively, students may opt to take an on-line or in-person workshop offered by approved NYSED vendors. This requirement must be met prior to degree conferral. For information about these workshops, please go to http://www.p12.nysed.gov/sss/ssae/schoolsafety/save/SVPIWP_location.html.
Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) Workshop. Students may fulfill this requirement at Teachers College by taking a workshop offered through Continuing Professional Studies (CPS) in collaboration with the Office of Teacher Education. For a list of dates and times, please go to the CPS Website at www.tc.edu/cps. Students may also fulfill this requirement at Teachers College by taking HBSS4116, Health Education for Teachers, which is offered by the Department of Health and Behavior Studies. This course may be offered on-line; however, to fulfill the DASA requirement, students must complete 3 hours of in-person preparation. In addition, a list of NYSED approved providers is available at http://www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert/certificate/dasa-applicant.html. This requirement must be met prior to degree conferral.
Autism Workshop (only for students seeking certification in special education/teaching students with disabilities). Students fulfill this requirement at Teachers College by taking a course specified by their programs.
New York State Teacher Certification Exams (NYSTCE): Please see the chart below for exams required by certificate type.
Initial School Building Leader
Professional School Building Leader
For more information regarding NYSTCE test registration and schedules please see the NYSTCE website at: http://www.nystce.nesinc.com/.
For more information regarding NYSED test requirements by certificate title and grade level, please see the NYSED website at: http://eservices.nysed.gov/teach/certhelp/CertRequirementHelp.do.
Please note that Teachers College programs lead to New York State certification. If you would like to seek certification in another state, please contact that state’s Department of Education regarding requirements.
Students who are in programs leading to teacher certification must complete a two-step process.
Step 1: Create a NYSED TEACH account, and apply and pay for the teaching certificate(s) via the NYSED TEACH online system at: www.highered.nysed.gov/tcert.
Step 2: Submit a completed Institutional Recommendation Data Form (IRDF) to the OTE. The IRDF can be found on the OTE website at: http://www.tc.columbia.edu/office-of-teacher-education/office-of-teacher-education/certification/institutional-recommendation/.
Once all requirements have been met, and the Office of the Registrar has notified the Office of Teacher Education that candidates have been cleared for graduation, TC’s Certification Officers will electronically submit the institutional recommendation for certification via the NYSED-TEACH online system.
Students who are in the Literacy Specialist, reading Specialist programs must provide proof of either completion of an approved teacher preparation program or of a valid teaching certificate. Students who are in the Summer Principals Academy program must provide proof of teacher certification and hold a minimum of three (3) years of full-time classroom teaching/PPS experience. If you have questions about this requirement, please contact the Office of Teacher Education at 212.678.3502 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consistent with the College’s long tradition of serving the needs of urban and suburban schools in the United States and around the world, the vision and purpose of professional education at Teachers College is to establish and maintain programs of study, service, and research that prepare competent, caring, and qualified professional educators (teachers, counselors, psychologists, administrators and others). This vision is based on three shared philosophical stances that underlie and infuse the work we do:
Inquiry stance: We are an inquiry-based and practice-oriented community. We and our students and graduates challenge assumptions and complacency, and embrace a stance of inquiry toward the interrelated roles of learner, teacher, and leader in P-12 schools.
Curricular stance: Negotiating among multiple perspectives on culture, content, and context, our graduates strive to meet the needs of diverse learners, both students and other adults, in their school communities.
Social justice stance: Our graduates choose to collaborate across differences in and beyond their school communities. They demonstrate a commitment to social justice and to serving the world while imagining its possibilities.
Our candidates are inquirers/researchers who have breadth of knowledge and a variety of tools to ask questions about educational environments. They reflect on and continually evaluate the effects of their choices on others (children, families, and other professionals in the learning community).
Lifelong Learners: Our candidates are continually engaged in learning and research. They take responsibility for their professional growth and seek/create learning opportunities for themselves and others.
Learner-Centered Educators: Our candidates understand their subject matter/disciplines, learners and learning, and curriculum and teaching. They create learning experiences that foster development and achievement in all students.
Effective Collaborators: Our candidates actively participate in the community or communities of which they are a part to support students’ learning and well being.
Advocates of Social Justice and Diversity: Our candidates are familiar with legal, ethical and policy issues. They provide leadership in advocating for children, families, and themselves in a variety of professional, political, and policy-making contexts.
Teachers College programs preparing teachers and other professional school personnel ensure that candidates have the knowledge, skills, and dispositions required for effective teaching. By the conclusion of the program, candidates demonstrate:
Knowledge and Understanding of:
The Peace Corps Fellows Program recruits outstanding Returned Peace Corps Volunteer educators who are passionate about making long-term commitments to teach in New York City’s public schools. Since 1985, the program has recruited and prepared more than 750 urban educators. As the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows (formerly Fellows/USA) flagship teacher preparation program, we provide full scholarships covering all tuition expenses. Upon completion of our 13-week Intensive Summer Institute, new Jaffe Peace Corps Fellows teach full-time as salaried teachers of record in NYC public schools for a minimum of three years. All related Master's degree requirements are completed at Teachers College within two to three years. We prepare teachers for a variety of grade levels and subject areas. For more information, please review the Program website www.tc.edu/pcfellows or call 212-678-6622.
The Teacher Opportunity Corps (TOCII) program is a New York State Education Department grant funded program designed to increase the number of New York State teachers from underrepresented backgrounds. To be eligible for TOC II at TC, candidates must be New York State residents who are enrolled in a TC teacher education program that leads to certification. Participants are provided with tuition assistance for coursework at Teachers College in addition to a generous travel stipend. All participants engage in a 10 month internship from September-June at one of our local partnership schools, seminars with renowned TC faculty who are committed to culturally sustaining pedagogies, and professional development opportunities that suit the needs and inquiries of the TOC cohort.
This 18 month intensive, full-time program prepares those who wish to teach in high-need New York City public schools. With support from the U.S. Department of Education, the Teaching Residents at Teachers College (TR@TC) program was developed to ensure that Teaching Residents receive exceptional preparation and multiple supports, while enrolled in a Master’s degree program leading to initial NYS teaching certification. Teaching Residents receive generous stipends. Upon graduation, alumni benefit from induction support for at least two years, while they fulfill their commitment to teach in a high-need urban school in New York City for a minimum of three years. For more information please visit: www.tc.edu/teachingresidents.
TyKesha Cross’ long road to becoming a certified business teacher in the Pine Bluff School District was featured Wednesday morning on NBC’s “Today” show.
Cross was reunited with Yolanda Prim, a former principal who gave Cross her first opportunity in education as a substitute teacher in the former Dollarway School District after she lost her job. Cross was a substitute teacher for two years before being hired full-time at then-Dollarway High School in 2019.
She recently earned full teacher certification from the Arkansas Teacher Corps, a partnership of the University of Arkansas, the Arkansas Department of Education and public school districts in the state.
Earning full certification was “a dream come true,” Cross said, becoming emotional. “Promise kept. It was a promise kept.”
The promise Cross made was to Prim, who left Dollarway as principal in 2021. Prim, who now lives in the Dallas area, surprised her with an on-air visit inside her classroom.
“Look at you now. I’m so proud of you, Cross,” Prim said.
Sitting down with reporter and former sixth-grade teacher Priscilla Thompson, Cross shared with her former boss what she meant to her.
“I honestly don’t believe you know how important you are to me,” Cross said. “You saved my life. You weren’t just a counselor. And wanting to be you is what pushed me and motivated me. It means a lot.”
The moment moved Prim to tears.
“You never think you’re saving lives. You’re just doing what you do,” Prim told NBC. “I love doing it.”
Prim was not the only inspiration in Cross’ career. Cross named Diane Murrell, Faye Wimberly, Linda Simmons, Elouise Shorter and Tenita Shannon Gragg as the “Fab 5” who mentored her.
“I have been blessed to be surrounded by a wonderful group of elegant educators who took me in as their own,” Cross said.
Cross said NBC cameras followed her from her home at 6 a.m. to her classroom at Pine Bluff Junior High Ninth-Grade Academy, which is where Dollarway High was previously located. The PBSD’s secondary schools merged on July 1, two years after the annexation of the Dollarway and Pine Bluff school districts.
The junior high is a merger of Robert F. Morehead and Jack Robey schools. Returning Dollarway High students now attend Pine Bluff High School.
NBC also visited the Jane Oliver Apartments near the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, where she grew up as TyKesha Gray.
Even then she had dreams of becoming a teacher.
“It was truly my calling,” she said. “When I was staying in the Jane Oliver Projects, when I was with my mom, I actually used to stay on the steps and have baby dolls, and I would teach my dolls on the steps.”
Cross was later raised by her grandparents, as her father died when she was 6 and her mother had been dealing with her own struggles. While in high school, she was shot in the head while visiting family in Little Rock.
“As my cousin got out to see his girlfriend, I was just in the car vibing, and he came back to the car,” she recalled. “As we were backing out to get out of the apartment complex, there was a gentleman on the side of the road. As he’s proceeding out of the complex, all I hear is [gunshots].”
Cross was pushed down by her cousin as the shots rang.
“My cousin gets off me and calls my name,” she said. “… But I cannot answer him. I can hear him call my name. As I hear him call my name, I hear him say, ‘You’ve been shot.’ I’m not able to communicate with him, but I can hear him.”
As she was driven to the nearest hospital, Cross recited a song by the Dallas Fort Worth Mass Choir that goes, in part:
“I’m sorry. Forgive me. Cleanse me up, Jesus. I never meant to hurt you or desert you, because I love you so much. I admit it that I did it. Cleanse me up and give me a second chance.”
Cross said she was released after a week of hospitalization.
She told NBC she became pregnant her senior year, and she thought her life “was over.”
Prim, then her guidance counselor at Dollarway, reached out to her at the time and encouraged her to return to Dollarway, where she graduated in 1997, and attended college. Cross became the first person in her family to graduate from college and earned business degrees from Southeast Arkansas College, UAPB and Webster University.
She went into real estate rather than education, however, and was successful at her job until an economic downturn caused her to lose her job. That’s when Prim reached out to her about achieving her childhood dream.
“As luck would have it, I had no desire,” Cross said. “Internally, that’s what my heart wanted to do. Financially, I knew being a teacher wouldn’t sustain the life I wanted to live, so I went to seek different avenues.”
Cross’ husband Dedrick is an assistant principal at James Matthews Elementary in the Pine Bluff School District. He, too, was certified as a teacher through the Arkansas Teacher Corps and encouraged his wife to do the same.
Although she passed the licensing test on her first attempt, Cross went through the Teacher Corps to learn how to manage the classroom.
“This was the divine journey,” Cross said. “I didn’t want it, per se, but it wanted me. God chose me.”
This story has been updated. It was originally published at 11 a.m. under the headline "Pine Bluff Junior High teacher featured on NBC’s 'Today'."
If you are a prospective recipient of a New York State teaching certification (including administrative/school leadership and pupil personnel services professionals) you will apply through the New York State Education Department (NYSED) using the TEACH System.
The Registrar's Office role in the certification process is limited to supporting recommendations at the point of degree conferral, providing program codes for SUNY Cortland programs and processing TEACH account authorizations. To speak with a trained counselor, and for most other types of student certification support, please review the Career Services Office site or contact the Career Services office for assistance.
Graduate and undergraduate students will be sent instructions and program codes in their Cortland email inbox after they have submitted the TEACH authorization form. If you are a graduate student, you must complete a an authorization for your current graduate level credential, even if you completed an authorization at Cortland previously.
Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Certification Program (PBTCP) is specifically designed to address the needs of two distinct populations:
This program closely follows the undergraduate Educator Preparation model. It is composed almost exclusively of undergraduate courses. Through this program, students are able to meet New Hampshire competencies for certification in one or more of the following areas:
Selection of a Content Area is required for admission. Prior to admission, it is strongly recommended that applicants have at least 100 hours of contact with children in a public school setting. This track requires an initial review of all post-secondary course work. The Office of Educator Preparation and Graduate Studies coordinates the examination of official transcripts, relevant standardized test results and other application materials to develop an individualized educational plan that will address the KSC Educator Preparation Themes while meeting New Hampshire state standards for Teacher Certification. The educational plan will typically address licensure competencies not met by the student’s baccalaureate degree. Required courses will guide students toward the acquisition of the knowledge, skills and dispositions necessary to demonstrate competence in their selected area of certification and as a professional educator.
Extra academic preparation may be required for applicants whose baccalaureate degree is not closely related to the area of certification they are seeking. Prior to engagement in the Student Teaching experience, it is strongly recommended that a student have at least 500 hours of contact with children of various ages in different public school environments.
For more information see Graduate Studies, email GraduateStudies@keene.edu or call 603-358-2378.
The Post-Baccalaureate Program is for students who hold a bachelor’s degree or above and wish to obtain a Georgia teaching certificate. This one-year program begins every summer and features online courses. The courses include both synchronous and asynchronous course instruction at the discretion of the program faculty. Students also complete a yearlong, full-time field experience (practicum and internship) during the fall and spring semesters.
Our administrative office will register you for your courses.
Tentative Program Schedule is as follows:
Summer: Three online classes
Fall: Two online classes and a full-time practicum placement from early August through the end of October
Spring: Internship class once per month, online and full-time internship placement from November through mid-May.
All classes are online and may occur both asynchronous and synchronous, however this is at the discretion of your professor. Field placement assignments only take place in person and are year-long, full-time (all day).
Initial teacher certification is offered through the Post-Baccalaureate program in P-12, middle grades (dual cert in two MG content areas: Math, LART, Social Science, or Science) and secondary education areas, excluding special education and early childhood education.
Cohorts begin in June each year and complete the program the following May.