Open House set for April 12
Western Kansas residents who wish to earn a teaching degree or build on an existing elementary education degree will now have the ability to do so without leaving their hometowns, thanks to a new early childhood education degree program to be offered by the Newman University Western Kansas Center.
The degree program, called the Early Childhood Unified Education degree (ECU), is designed to prepare teachers to work with young children from birth through 3rd grade. The program will be built around the existing Elementary Education degree program already offered by the Newman Western Kansas Center, and requires an additional semester (16 credit hours) of coursework for students to earn dual licensure. Area residents already holding an education degree and teaching license may need only the additional 16 hours to earn their early childhood education licensure.
“This program is a great way for people to earn or finish their degree without having to leave the community where they live and work,” said Newman Director of Western Kansas Center Education Programs Bonita Green. “Classes are offered at night Monday through Thursday, and it only takes sixteen months including student teaching to complete the Elementary Education degree, and an additional semester to complete the Early Childhood degree.”
Classes for the new program will begin this on Fridays and Saturdays. The new program will be available in all locations where Newman currently offers classes, including Dodge City, Garden City, Great Bend, Hutchinson, Liberal, Pratt, Ulysses, Scott City, Syracuse, and Sharon.
The Western Kansas Center will host three Open Houses in the coming months to provide more information about the Early Childhood Unified Education degree and all Newman programs, beginning on Tuesday, April 12. See below for more details.
Meeting a need
Newman officials said the new degree option was developed in response to a growing demand for certified early childhood educators and for teachers with a combination of early childhood and elementary education certification. Green pointed to the Bright Beginnings Early Childhood program in Dodge City, where teachers have voiced a need for early childhood education programs. In addition, Dodge City USD 443, Garden City USD 457, Dodge City Community College, and Garden City Community College officials have offered their support for a Newman early childhood program.
Karen Rogers, Ph.D., associate professor of education at the Newman University campus in Wichita where the new program will also be offered beginning this summer, added that the major will develop caring, reflective practitioners who possess theoretical, practical, family and child-centered skills for the education and development of young children.
“Early Childhood education is an area that deserves our finest teachers that value individuals and recognizes potential in our youngest learners,” Rogers said. “Developing a program based on caring, reflective practitioners promotes this philosophy.”
“This new program really gives teachers more options and makes them very marketable,” Green added. “It gives you the ability to work with children from birth through grade 6. And, for those teachers who already have an elementary education degree, this is a way to get an additional certification and move up the pay scale with only one semester’s work.”
Other degree programs and benefits
The new ECU program will be part of the existing Teacher Education Program (TEP) offered by the Newman University Western Kansas Center. Residents who have completed general education requirements at a community college and who qualify for the TEP may complete the Elementary Education degree program in two years, including the teaching internship. The Western Kansas Center also offers the specific courses required for Kansas licensure endorsement as an English as Second Language (ESL) teacher. These courses can also be used as the basis for a Master of Science in Education degree program in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in English as a Second Language. Secondary education endorsements are also available.
The Newman University School of Social Work also offers courses in Dodge City and Garden City toward the Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. In addition, Newman University offers two online programs, a Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN), and a Bachelor of Business Studies degree.
Green notes that the Newman programs offer many benefits to area residents. Course credits can be easily transferred to Newman, especially for those with a bachelor’s degree, associate of art degree or associate of science degree. Credits can be transferred that were earned at Dodge City, Barton County, Garden City, Hutchinson, Pratt or Seward County Community Colleges, as well as other colleges and universities.
Almost all programs feature evening classes on Mondays through Thursdays, which is a plus for students who work during the day or have a family, Green said. She added that Newman is affordable. The university offers a variety of scholarships and grants, including an automatic scholarship for students who graduated with an associate’s degree from a community college in Kansas and surrounding states.
Green said the new ECU program and other programs available through the Newman Western Kansas Center also offer many advantages over programs in other area colleges and universities. Newman classes feature face-to-face instruction in most cases, which allows for interaction among teachers and students as opposed to static, pre-recorded online courses and ITV classes offered in limited areas by other universities. Newman also features small class sizes, giving students more opportunities for personal attention. In addition, the Dodge City site has a computer lab where students who don’t own a computer can have free access to do schoolwork and collaborate with fellow students.
Green added that Newman offers students support and a personal touch not always found in larger universities.
“Our advisors work to build and maintain close personal relationships with students, because we understand that it can be a real burden to go to school, work and raise a family all at the same time,” Green said. “We also take pride that most of our instructors come from local community colleges and school districts, which means they’re up to date on trends and developments going on in local school districts – and with the kids themselves, which can change so quickly.”
Green added that the Western Kansas Center will hire up to four new instructors to assist with the ECU program.
The Newman University Western Kansas Center will host three Open Houses in the coming months where area residents can learn more about the Early Childhood Unified Education degree and all Newman programs. The Open Houses will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 12, Tuesday, May 3, and Thursday, June 16 at the Western Kansas Center, 236 San Jose, Suite 39 in Dodge City. The center is located in Hennessy Hall on the former St. Mary of the Plains campus. Please use the west entrance.
For more information about the Open Houses, call 620- 227-9616 or email [email protected].
For more information about Newman degree programs, contact the Newman University Western Kansas Center at 620-227-9616 or email [email protected]. Information is also available at the Newman University website, www.newmanu.edu/western-kansas.