The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College started a new four-year certification program this fall that will equip students with dual experience in early childhood and special education.
Graduates from the program will receive a bachelor’s degree in education with a certificate in early childhood education and special education. It is the only undergraduate degree in the state to offer double accreditation.
The Early Childhood Special Education credential certifies educators in early childhood education to work with children from birth through third grade. It also certifies teachers in early childhood special education to work with children from birth through kindergarten.
ECS is designed to train students by placing them in school sites where they can get hands-on experience in classrooms.
Students take part in an internship during their junior year and are required to do a senior year teaching residency.
Associate Director for Teacher Preparation and ECS program coordinator Cory Hansen said the program was created in response to Arizona school districts needing both early childhood and special education teachers. Hansen said this demand was due to many classrooms integrating special education children with regular classes.
“Children are no longer being segregated in special (education) classrooms, they’re included in the regular classroom,” Hansen said. “If teachers are educated with ways of working with and helping and remediating children with special needs … they’re going to be much more effective in their classrooms.”
Hansen said the early childhood faculty at ASU played a key role in creating the curriculum for the program.
During the summer, the faculty revised the curriculum and made sure it was strong enough to prepare the best early childhood educators, Hansen said.
Early childhood education junior Josephine Jado is interning in a first grade classroom. Jado said she believes the ECS program is beneficial because both early childhood and special education are important.
“If anyone is ever interested in early childhood, I recommend that they go ahead with this program,” Jado said. “I believe it opens many doors … being a dual certification in special education.”
ECS has 75 students enrolled and classes are offered at the Polytechnic, West and Tempe campuses.
Early childhood education junior Anna Groves is enrolled in the program. Groves said she is not just learning from textbooks, she is learning life skills and gaining experience.
“I have learned more about teaching in the past five weeks than I have learned in the last two years of being in college,” Groves said.
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