ASCC Reaches New Record Number for B.Ed. Graduates
November 23, 2015
By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer
The American Samoa Bachelors in Education (ASBEP) program at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) will have a new record number of graduates completing their Bachelors in Education (B.Ed) degrees when the fall 2015 semester concludes with the Commencement Ceremony on Friday, December 11th. Ten men and women, some in-service teachers of longstanding service and some pre-service teachers now gaining their first experience as classroom leaders, will receive their B.Ed. degrees, the highest number so far since the ASCC first conferred the B.Ed. in spring 2011.
The fall 2015 B.Ed. recipients will be Barry Patane, Pauline Taape, Sia Niupulusu, Ana-Marie Kitiona, Salani Julia Leota, Angela Amata, Faaleaga Lotulelei, Cathlyn Custodio, Christine Fuimaono and Senetenari Lameta-Malele. Angela Amata currently teaches at Alataua-Lua Elementary, Faaleaga Loutulelei serves at Lupelele Elementary, and Senetari Lameta-Malele is with Pava’ia’i Elementary, while the rest of the pending graduates are pre-service teachers who have served for a prescribed period with various schools on island for the practicum portion of their training.
ASBEP is part of the Teacher Education (TED) program at ASCC. TED also offers an Associate in Arts (AA) degree to undergraduates who subsequently have the option of continuing with their studies towards a B.Ed., which takes approximately two years. Since the awarding of its first B.Ed. in 2011, 11 of the 18 ASBEP graduates have gone on to work for the local Department of Education, according to ASBEP instructor Feleni Alainuuese. “ASBEP provides the content, pedagogy and clinical practice to give students firsthand experience in a real classroom,” explained Alainuuese. “This framework enables student teachers to align the content of their coursework to what they observe at their practicum site. Additionally, the alignment between coursework, program learning outcomes and institutional learning outcomes is well defined.”
A number of the graduating students agreed that ASBEP has provided them with a smooth transition between the theoretical and the practical aspects of being a professional educator. “Through this program I have gained understanding of teaching, planning lessons and managing a classroom with more than 20 students,” said Salani Julia Leota. “I have been in courses that placed me in real classrooms to observe, teach and assess the students. The program has pushed me toward my goals and the instructors are supportive of each student in the program.”
Pauline Taape spoke of how, even though she had previous teaching experience, her studies with ASBEP changed her perspective. “When I taught before, I was inexperienced in what to do,” she reflected. “My ASBEP experience was really life-changing because it made me appreciate and love this career more. The students are my main priority and it’s my job to make learning meaningful and fun for them.” Ana-Marie Kitiona expressed appreciation that as an ASBEP student, “you get to work on your B.Ed. while you still qualify for financial aid.” Kitiona commended not only the ASBEP staff but also the instructors at the various partnering elementary schools who act as on-site mentors. “The Coordinating Teachers who we were assigned to were really helpful in showing us a variety of approaches to students who have different learning abilities,” she recalled.
Partnerships with the community, stressed TED Director Dr. Lina Galea’i-Scanlan, play a vital role in the success of ASBEP. “We have a strong partnership with ASDOE and their Teacher Quality component, and to date, many of our pre-service graduates have been offered teaching positions with ASDOE,” she said. “We’re also grateful to the Elementary Division of ASDOE, all our student teacher school sites and the Coordinating Teachers at these schools who mentor our ASBEP students. Pava’ia’i, Lupelele, Manulele Tausala, and Matafao have shown especially strong support of our student teachers.”
“Almost every aspect of the services we offer,” agreed Alainuuese. “For example, our student teachers for fall 2015 worked closely with Sandy Samoa to promote a network for parents of children with disabilities. They also volunteered for Saturdays get-togethers, and invited the parents and children from their respective schools.” ASBEP also has its own student organization, the Lumana’i Educators Association, which has participated in a number of community service projects, such as conducting tutorials at Feleti Barstow Library as well as handicrafts sessions in the library’s children's section. ASBEP faculty have been active in the community as well, with Dr. Larry Purcell recently invited to conduct Professional Development training for teachers at Tafuna High School, and Mr. Tero Talamoa invited to judge Math-in-Arts competitions at both Manulele Tausala and Lupelele.
For more information on ASBEP, see the ASCC catalog available online at: www. amsamoa.edu, or call the TED at 699-9155, extension 431.