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Diving into Saint Leo’s Two New Online Bachelor’s in Education Programs

Considering a bachelor’s in education? Get a full overview of Saint Leo University’s two latest online bachelor’s in education degree programs – one in elementary education and the other in early childhood development – in this Q&A.

A photo showing an elementary education teacher with studentsEducating our nation’s youth is one of the most critical aspects of society today, especially with more and more pieces of technology that are pulling kids away from tried-and-true forms of education. There are also lots of benefits to being in the classroom in terms of a career, including these six reasons to go into teaching.

That’s why Saint Leo University was proud to launch two new online degree programs in the education realm in the fall of 2019. While both of these programs have been offered at University Campus and at some of Saint Leo’s Education Centers, they are now conveniently available online to a much larger pool of students.

We recently caught up with Lita Locuson, an enrollment counselor for both programs, to compile all of the particulars about each curriculum.

Online Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education – Grades K-6

Q: What exactly does this bachelor’s in elementary education program entail?

A: In this program, students learn all of the ins-and-outs of teaching elementary education. This level refers to teaching Kindergarten through sixth grade.

It’s important to mention that this program is intended for students who reside and want to teach in the state of Florida.

Since students will need to complete field placements within the state of Florida (a requirement of a Florida Department of Education-certified program), the Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education is intended for students who reside and want to teach in the state of Florida.

By the time student’s graduate, they will have earned their Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education, a Professional Florida Educator Certificate, and endorsements for both ESOL and Reading for Grades K-12. These two endorsements are now a requirement to teach in public schools in Florida, which is why many current teachers are having to go back and earn these endorsements.

This is a state-approved degree program through the Florida Department of Education and meets all of the necessary standards.

Q: If I earn this particular education degree, can I use it to teach in other states within the U.S.?

A: Several states offer reciprocity, meaning you may be able to take this degree outside of Florida and use it in other states to teach without any additional requirements. However, students should call the Department of Education within the other state to ensure reciprocity. In some cases, students who earn this degree and teach in other states may be required to earn an additional certification.

Q: Who is this program intended for?

A: We have a good mix of both traditional students and adult learners enrolled in the program. Many of our adult learners already work in the school system and plan to transition into the classroom.

Q: What are the faculty members like in this program?

A: All of the faculty have either a Ph.D. or master’s degree. All faculty are also required to have had extensive, successful experience teaching in a K-6 classroom. The majority of the faculty members also have hands-on experience teaching in K-6 classrooms and can relay their practical experience to every student in this degree program.

Q: What is the delivery method of this program?

A: This program is offered fully online. However, students will attend both synchronous and asynchronous classes. The synchronous classes meet on specific days each week and students use a webcam and microphone to interact with the rest of the class.

In addition to face-to-face collaboration with fellow students and instructors, the students in this program will conduct lesson plans as if they are teaching a class using this web-conferencing technology.

Q: What kind of practical experience do students receive?

A: There are field practicums required in this program.

In each of the first three semesters, students must complete 90 hours of field practicum time. The last semester involves a 16-week internship where the student essentially works as a full-time teacher.

All of the practicum work is completed in an actual classroom setting with students in Kindergarten through sixth grade levels. All placements are completed within the local school district where a student lives and a coordinator works with each student individually to place them. They are also assigned a University Supervisor who conducts observations of the student in their field placement and are placed in the classroom of a Cooperating Teacher (someone who has received Clinical Educator Training). Both serve as mentors to support the student’s growth as a classroom teacher. Students will experience placements in a variety of settings and grade levels as required by the state of Florida. At Saint Leo, students go beyond merely observing to actually teaching in that first semester. This exceeds the state requirement, and we feel this makes students much better prepared to succeed as first-year teachers – also makes our students highly desirable by school districts. In addition, students can request a particular grade level and subject they would like to teach in this coursework.

I should also mention that students are encouraged to join the Future Teachers Association and Kappa Delta Pi, an international honor society for education majors.

Q: What are some examples of topics covered in this program?

A: The main topics covered in this curriculum include:

  • Teaching reading, math, language arts, social studies, and science at the K-6 levels
  • ESOL and ESE foundations
  • Educational assessments
  • Classroom management strategies
  • Handling student-teacher and parent-teacher conferences
  • Effective and innovative use of technology to support student learning

Q: What types of career opportunities can one attain with this degree?

A: In general, this degree prepares students to teach in Kindergarten through sixth grade classes in a variety of subjects.

Graduates may find opportunities in both public and private school settings. It is important to note that students applying for teaching positions must undergo fingerprinting and a background check to work in the school system.

A photo showing a daycare worker with kidsOnline Bachelor of Arts in Educational Studies – Early Childhood Development

Q: What exactly does this educational studies program entail?

A: This program is tailored to students who want to teach and nurture early learners, from birth to five years.

This program prepares students for employment with agencies and educational institutions that do not require graduation from an initial certification program as a term of employment. All of the courses are, however, aligned with the Florida state standards for Early Childhood Education and prepare students to sit for their (Florida) state teaching licensure if they so desire. Again, students outside of Florida should consult the requirements of their particular state.

It is also worth noting that unlike our Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education program, this program allows students to use their degree in any location without any special licensure requirements.

Q: Who is this program intended for?

A: In general, this degree is designed for students who are looking to advance their careers in early childhood education. It might be a teaching assistant or someone working on a part-time basis who wants to move up and oversee a group of youngsters who are just learning some of the core competencies of education. It could also be someone who has been working successfully for a number of years in an early childhood center who now wishes to further their expertise and become eligible for other career opportunities by earning a bachelor’s degree.

Most of the students who enroll already have a Child Development Associate, a common credential for working in this field.

Q: What are the instructors like in this educational studies program?

A: Like our other programs, all of our instructors have either a doctoral or master’s degree. In this program, the instructors also have many years’ worth of experience working with early learners.

Q: How is this degree program delivered?

A: This program is also offered fully online. Although there is no formal practicum, in some classes, students will be required to engage in fieldwork to gain hands-on experience. Students will then apply their experience in the online classroom discussions and assignments.

In this program, the fieldwork placement is the responsibility of the student. However, many students already work in an early childhood educational environment, so they may be able to do field work at those facilities. This program is available to students throughout the United States.

Q: What kinds of topics are covered in the curriculum?

A: Examples include:

  • Child guidance
  • Brain-based learning
  • Literacy foundations
  • Early childhood growth and development
  • Children’s literature
  • Learning in the digital age
  • Integrated math and science for early learners

Q: What can you do with this Bachelor of Arts in Educational Studies?

A: You may be considered for roles within daycares, pre-K programs, Head Start programs, and positions within a variety of organizations serving early learners.

Want to Be a Future Teacher? Learn More about These Bachelor’s in Education Programs

You can visit the program pages for the elementary education degree program and the early childhood development degree program.

You may also contact our enrollment office at 800-334-5532, or you can contact myself, Lita, by email at lita.locuson@saintleo.edu.

Finally, check out a comparison of teaching early childhood education vs. elementary education.

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