December 2007, Volume 8, Number 12
Member Spotlight: American Samoa Community College
Bachelor’s in Education Program
American Samoa Community College
Pago Pago, American Samoa
The fall 2007 semester marks a historic milestone for the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) with the introduction of the American Samoa Bachelor’s in Education Program (ASBEP), which gives students in American Samoa their first opportunity to complete a B.Ed. without having to travel off the island. Previously, students had the option of pursuing a B.Ed. through the University of Hawaii Cohort Program, but this required them to spend a semester or more taking courses in Hawaii. ASBEP, which offers a full four-year curriculum leading to a B.Ed., had capacity enrollment as undergraduates and working professionals alike signed up for its initial courses this semester.
“We chose Teacher Education as the focus of our first four-year program to help remedy the chronic shortage of teachers with bachelor’s degrees in American Samoa,” said ASCC President Adele Satele-Galea’i. A territory of the United States since 1900, American Samoa lies roughly halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. The territory’s distance from colleges and universities in Hawaii and the U.S. mainland makes pursuing advanced degrees a challenge for residents, especially working teachers. ASCC first opened its doors in 1970 and has since gained WASC certification to offer Associate in Arts and Associate in Sciences degrees locally.
The local community has long valued ASCC as a transition point for students before they enter four-year institutions off the island. “Our youth who travel away from home directly out of high school often find that culture shock makes it hard for them to succeed,” explained Satele-Galea’i. “In most cases, students who come to ASCC first to earn their A.A. or A.S. degrees find the transition to off-island schools considerably easier.” While studying abroad proves challenging enough for young adults, for working teachers, many of whom have families to support, leaving home to work on advanced degrees simply isn’t an option. ASBEP now offers both undergraduates and professionals already working as teachers an opportunity to earn a B.Ed. without departing the territory, and also marks the first step in the process that, it is hoped, will lead to additional baccalaureate degrees at ASCC.
In order to launch a bachelor’s degree in one subject area while maintaining accreditation for its existing associate degree programs, ASCC sought a special joint accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). “In essence, we now answer to two WASC commissions, the Accrediting Commission on Community and Junior Colleges, which reviews our existing programs, as well as the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities, which will monitor the progress of our four-year program,” said ASCC Accreditation Liaison Officer Kathleen Kolhoff-Belle.
“The effort towards a B.Ed. in teacher education goes back more than 10 years,” explained Satele-Galea’i, “and has involved many more people than I can thank at one time. I can say that with the opening of ASBEP this semester, for all of us who worked on this project, this represents a dream come true.”
For more information on ASCC, visit the college’s web page at www.amsamoa.edu.
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