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 Bringing Experts into the Classroom

A consortium administered through the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) has grown exponentially over the past year, turning industry experts into classroom teachers across the state.

More than 1,000 teachers have obtained their preliminary designated subjects credentials through the SDCOE program. They bring their particular area of expertise in 15 industry areas, which range from nursing and engineering, to arts and construction.

"Through this work, we're making a difference for students across California by helping to prepare them for high-paying, high-impact careers," said Carol Tomeo, who coordinates the program.

SDCOE took over the responsibility for creating coursework for the Designated Subjects Consortium in November 2015. Since then, the two-person team has quickly expanded the program's scope and reach.

Many of the people seeking these special credentials are industry experts who have never taught in a classroom. They choose from four designated subjects credentials: career-technical education, adult education, special subjects, or supervision and coordination. Through a series of online classes and a personalized learning plan, they are able to earn a clear Designated Subjects teaching credential.

All coursework was developed by SDCOE and built on a foundation of project-based learning. For someone with no teaching experience, the process takes about a year, and provides the industry expert with the tools and skills needed to successfully teach in a 21st-century learning environment.

"Some professionals don't even realize that they can teach about their industry areas in the classroom," said Project Specialist Kirsten McGinn. "For many of them, it's an exciting prospect."

The SDCOE Designated Subjects Consortium partners with more than 200 school districts, regional occupational programs, county offices of education, charter schools, and other agencies across the state.