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First-of-its-kind Education for Instruction degree will offer students a new flexibility in teaching

An already highly successful job placement rate should become more enhanced as a one-of-a-kind, innovative degree offering an array of areas of study is now available to students in the School of Education.

The Bachelor’s degree in Education for Instruction was started this semester to meet the needs of future graduates.

“The course of education is changing,’’ Professor of Education Dr. Colleen Wilson, Department Chair and Professor of Education, said. “As future educators, workers, business owners and community members we’re going to have to re-envision what education looks like. It’s happening across the industry and if we can help students be ready to be flexible in their thinking and not to think teaching is only in a classroom with four walls and 20 kids, I think we’ll be able to move the next generation in a unique direction.’’

Professor Wilson said the new program is need based in our area.

“We broadened the definition of teaching and looked at the different ways we know teaching and learning are part of everyday life,’’ she said. “We looked around and didn’t see anybody doing this program from an education direction and built if from the ground up. No one is seeming to offer this broad a pathway to the students’ future. We have a brand new program.’’

All of this now can be done in a four-year time frame as opposed to the five years it takes to complete the state-approved B.S. /M.Ed. Elementary Education program. To anyone’s knowledge the Education for Instruction degree is the first program of its kind in the area.

The flexibility the new program offers will allow students the opportunity to specialize in a myriad of fields.

“As I meet with students I remind them that education is business,’’ Education Resource Specialist Ron Harrell said. “It’s the business of our nation to educate people. What I tell the students is an education degree is helping them to have lifetime skill sets; the concept of retirement is eroding. Education is a skill set that will provide lifetime employment. Education translates through all industry, government and business, whether in profit or nonprofit, you will find educators everywhere and in every part of the world.  There will always be a job for you. You can couple an education degree with any graduate degree and move to the top of the corporate ladder. We’re not only going to teach traditional education but show students other options exist.’’

“If a student is interested in literacy, he or she can teach reading to adults and children,’’ Dr. Wilson, who in May was named Professor of the Year, said. “Maybe they are interested in waterfront programming, if you wanted to run a summer camp or teach paddle boarding or community engagement or to work as a trainer or work at the YMCA; STEM curriculum (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in math or science which makes you that much more in demand. You create your future from corporate training to classroom teaching to running a program to having a business with this education degree. It’s about knowing how to take information and give it back to folks and give it back in an appropriate manner.’’

Dr. Wilson said that while the new program is in its infancy, student reception has been strong.

“Many of the students are interested in the flexibility of the program,’’ she said. “Some people find the traditional five-year program difficult in that they want to be some type of teacher but didn’t want to commit to five years. Education and mentoring is not far from their mind but they don’t want to do it as their first line. We are seeing some very good questions and having thought provoking conversations with the students. We’re offering an alternative. We’re trying to make education appealing to both students and parents.’’