MEDIA ADVISORY: UCSC commencement for new teachers on July 19

Unique program combines teacher's credential and master's degree

What: Commencement for 115 graduates of UC Santa Cruz's Master of Arts in Education Teacher Preparation Program, which offers a combined teaching credential and master's degree in five quarters.

When: Friday, July 19, 10 a.m to 2 p.m.

Where: UCSC Quarry

Who: 115 students are graduating with Master's degrees and teaching credentials.

Eugene Garcia, dean of Arizona State University's College of Education and formerly a professor and dean at UCSC, will deliver the commencement address, "New Beginnings: Challenges and Opportunities." UCSC Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood will provide opening remarks.

Background: In September 2000, UCSC responded to the state's critical teacher shortage by launching an ambitious 15-month combined credential/master's program. By condensing a two-year program into 15 months, the Education Department has blended hands-on preparation and scholarship in a program that is getting more qualified teachers into classrooms quickly.

The number of teachers working with "emergency credentials" has skyrocketed since class sizes were reduced. By speeding up the credentialing process without sacrificing the quality of preparation, UCSC is setting the standard in teacher preparation. "If we hadn't sped up the process, the state would be putting more nontrained people in the classroom, and class-size reduction wouldn't accomplish what was hoped," said Joyce Justus, chair of the Education Department.

The UCSC curriculum was developed to emphasize the needs of linguistically and culturally diverse students, and the program's breadth and depth help prepare graduates to take strong leadership roles early in their careers, said Justus.