Published: Dec. 12, 2019
Kayliegh Esswein in the classroom

From her first course in education, Kayleigh Esswein was hooked. She always knew she wanted to teach and viewed teaching as a means for addressing educational inequities. The Colorado native majored in English with a minor in Education Studies as an undergraduate at Colorado College, and that first fateful course exploring the U.S. education system forever changed her worldview. 

“Something clicked,” she said. “I learned about the many societal and systemic injustices present in the U.S. and realized that education is our best tool to combat this inequality.”

After returning home from teaching English in Spain post-graduation and a stint working in the non-profit sector, Esswein decided to make her call to become a teacher a reality by enrolling in the CU Boulder School of Education Master’s plus (MA+) teacher licensure program. She is part of the inaugural cohort of graduate students enrolled in the new one-year, immersive MA+ humanities teacher licensure program for future English language arts and social studies teachers. 

The program was redeveloped and redesigned by Wendy Glenn, professor of literacy studies and program chair for secondary humanities, Sara Staley, assistant research professor of literacy studies, and their colleagues. It features a summer start and finish and includes additional coursework and practica experiences in 7-12 classrooms throughout the fall and spring semesters. 

“The one-year program is the best way to get a MA+ licensure, because you get to see what a real classroom looks like from day one until graduation,” said Esswein, who works with her mentor teacher at Peak to Peak Charter School in Lafayette. “The program is deeply immersive, and the one-year model means that we will be in the field teaching as soon as we can.”

The MA+ teacher licensure program in humanities was also redesigned to further emphasize equity and justice by placing three key themes at the core of the curriculum: power, privilege, and positioning; culture and diversity; and professional identity.

“The framework that guides the program reflects our commitments to teaching for equity and justice and asks that students tackle complicated questions,” Glenn said.

Staley added, “This builds on our strengths as instructors — it’s an opportunity for us to teach what we are passionate about.”

Interaction with faculty and peers in her tight-knit cohort is one of the many reasons Esswein is glad she found this program.

“The professors have been so wonderful, knowledgeable, and kind,” she said. “They push me to be a better person and a better teacher every day.”

The deadline to apply for the MA+ teacher licensure in English language arts or social studies is Jan. 15 for international students or Feb. 1 for domestic students. Learn about courses, admissions requirements, and more.