Champlain College’s Teacher Apprenticeship Program Provides Educators with Quick Path to State Licensure

Sunsetg at Champlain

An accelerated eight-month teacher licensure program has been the savior for many Vermonters in recent years. Champlain College's newly acquired Teacher Apprenticeship Program (TAP), within the realms of the Online and Continuing Professional Studies division, has assisted many Vermonters throughout the recession. As companies in Vermont and bordering states are downsizing, a multitude of people have been left looking for new jobs in their field, or perhaps, pursuing a major career change. TAP is helping these people, many with years of experience, turn their knowledge into a prosperous teaching career.

Jim Svarczkopf never saw a day when he wouldn't be part of the ASIC memory design group at IBM. That all suddenly changed for the 25-year IBM employee when he and hundreds of others were laid off from the Essex Junction, Vt. plant in June 2013.

Not sure what to do next, Svarczkopf considered a teaching certification program he had been looking at for a number of years. TAP began in Essex, Vt., in 2002 as a Chittenden County Supervisory Union District Program to bring new teachers into the district. Last year, the program was acquired by Champlain College, where it has grown exponentially.

"The layoff really changed my life," said Svarczkopf, "I never pursued the program before because I couldn't take the cut in income and dedicate all my time to changing my career." But once he was laid off, Svarczkopf had his days free and a six-month severance package to subsidize the lack of income during his student teaching.

Svarczkopf registered for the eight-month program in August of 2013. He currently is teaching math at Essex High School. "I started looking at the program because I have coached softball at Essex High School for a number of years. I am familiar with the school and the community, and knew I'd love the opportunity to teach in the school," he said.

The transition hasn't been all fun and games though. "During this time, my wife has taken on a second job, putting in 60-65 hours each week," he continued. "I too have picked up a part-time job and am working an additional four hours after being in the school all day. Not only do I not have an income at the moment, but once I start teaching full-time, my salary is much lower than it was at IBM." Despite the initial challenges, Svarczkopf says he loves the TAP program and being in the school, and is sure that it will all work out in the long run.

"We are strong advocates for supporting our community members in Vermont," said program Director Scott Mosher. "These Vermonters make outstanding teachers because they are invested and committed to the students in their towns. This is especially true with numerous former IBM employees who have transitioned to teaching through TAP over the past 12 years."

Fortunately, for Svarczkopf and fellow former-IBM employee Andy Grab, the Workforce Investment Act paid for the majority of the program's tuition.

"These highly educated professionals have a common thread - a passion for working with kids," Mosher continued. "Their academic and industry experience provide students with a unique learning opportunity to truly be college and career ready. Our close relationship with the Vermont Department of Labor has opened the door for the four current IBM TAP interns that are in our program. These future teachers will be licensed and ready to begin a rewarding second career in Vermont schools next fall."

Grab is also slated to begin teaching full-time in the fall, and currently instructs math and science at Browns River Middle School.

Due to high enrollment this year, there are two intakes of students in the program. The first intake began in August, and the second began in November. Since the program's creation in 2002, TAP has worked with over 375 professionals with bachelors degrees to help them quickly earn teacher licensure in the state of Vermont.

TAP and Champlain College are planning an informational session for interested parties to learn more about the program on Feb. 5 and 11 at the Miller Center at Champlain's Lakeside Campus. For more information about TAP or to register for the information session, visit www.tapvt.org or contact director Scott Mosher at smosher@champlain.edu.


Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Quebec and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain offers a traditional undergraduate experience from its beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain and over 60 online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain's distinctive career-driven approach to higher education embodies the notion that true learning occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 379 Colleges: 2015 Edition. Champlain was named a "Top-Up-and-Coming School" by U.S. News & World Report's America's Best Colleges and is ranked in the top tier of 2014 Regional Colleges in the North. For more information, visit www.champlain.edu.