Connecticut Post
Wednesday, May 11, 2011

HCC, SCSU get together on student's 'Pathways' credits

Ah, the rewards of being a high school teacher.

Having to stand in front of a bunch of clock-watching, phone-texting teenagers who only want one thing ---- to leave. Kids whose idea of a well-researched term paper is one that's cut and pasted from Wikipedia. Kids who only open their textbook to prop it up so you can't see them sleeping. Kids who ... well, you get the picture.

This brings us to this week's In Your Corner column, the exasperating case of Michael J. Belletzkie, a college student who actually wants to be a high school biology teacher. He emailed us to say he's getting a lot of grief from Southern Connecticut State University about transferring his credits from Housatonic Community College.

Our first response was, "Hey, maybe Southern is trying to do you a favor here. Do you really want to spend your life trying to teach a bunch of slothful, inattentive malcontents?"

But throwing caution to the spring winds, which have been blowing rather hard lately, we decided to look into this matter. Here's his problem. Belletzkie is enrolled in HCC's "Pathways to Teaching Professions" program. It's designed to provide a way for community college students in Connecticut to switch over to the state university system without losing credits that could count toward not only a baccalaureate, but a teaching certificate as well.

This is all well and good, Belletzkie said, except for the fact that in the ivory towers of SCSU (actually, they're made of concrete block), no one seems to know about "Pathways to Teaching Professions."

He writes: "... despite my best efforts, I have not met a single person at SCSU that even knows the Pathway to Teaching Program exists." He added that "even the academic dean" doesn't know about the Pathways to Teaching Professions agreement.

He told us that he's been shuttled from one office to another at Southern, and he said it was kind of like visiting the Kremlin and asking where they put the statue of Nikita Khrushchev.

We also spoke with Belletzkie's adviser at HCC, Professor Elizabeth Steeves. "What he had to deal with were all kinds of delays and people who weren't aware of our agreement with the state university system," she said. "The faculties at the four-year schools often have a different idea of what courses should transfer. So initially, courses weren't transferring."

Now, in defense of Southern, we should say here that Pathways to Teaching Professions is a new program. In fact, Belletzkie is only the second student at HCC, and the first potential high school teacher, to try to "take advantage" of it.

So we contacted the administration of Southern, and we explained to them Belletzkie's frustration in trying to get someone ---- anyone ---- at SCSU to admit knowledge the Pathways program.

The SCSU administration admitted that "in this instance" there was "some initial miscommunication because of the particular circumstances." And they promised us that "the student will receive proper credit for course work that is covered by the articulation agreement with the community colleges. The appropriate dean's office is diligently working on this matter."

Not only that, but Belletzkie told us that he actually received a personal telephone call from the dean of arts and sciences at Southern, and "he has been trying to push as many credits through for me as possible."

He added: "I believe the situation is now being handled appropriately on the part of SCSU. I'm not sure if it was the pressure from you or from my HCC adviser, but in any case, thank you for helping with this issue."

Steeves agreed. "In the end, everything transferred the way it was supposed to," she said.

We're glad that we were of some help. But, Mike, 10 years from now, when the class cut-up replaces your Smart Board "Mysteries of the Mitochondria" video with an episode of "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," hey, don't say we didn't warn you.