December 15, 2004
04-152

Charles Harmon Director of University Relations, Dr. Julie Reffel, Department Head & Associate Professor Early Childhood & Reading Education Department (229) 333-5929

VSU Expands Programs at Two-Year Colleges

Valdosta State University's Departments of Special Education and Communication Disorders and Early Childhood and Reading Education have announced a new program to be offered at three of VSU's partnerinstitutions to prepare teachers to serve young children with and without disabilities. Seventy-five teacher candidates are participating in this blended program resulting in the Bachelor of Science in Education and Master of Education in Special Education leading to certification in Interrelated Special Education / Early Childhood at South Georgia College, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and Waycross College.

Early Childhood programs have been offered for the past three years through the assistance of the University System of Georgia's ?Enhancing Access? funding initiative. When this initiative concluded this past summer, VSU's College of Education decided to continue the university's commitment to serving the region by providing upper-level curriculum on the campus of two-year schools. This off campus program has been delivered on VSU's main campus since January, 2000, when a request was received from the Georgia Board of Regents to design an integrated program to prepare early childhood educators who would be qualified to teach students receiving services through an interrelated special education program. The rationale for the request was to better prepare early childhood educators to meet the needs of students with disabilities in regular classes as well as to reduce the numbers of teachers certified in ECE who were teaching out of field in special education programs. VSU officials say the resulting program is a blended program. Students enter this program in their junior year and continue into the Master of Education program.

Nearly 30 students attended an advising session in November at South Georgia College and are ready to begin the program in the spring. Courses at SGC are offered three nights per week to provide flexibility for those non-traditional students working or raising families. The program will follow a prescribed sequence and culminate at the M.Ed. degree. The certification area in the state of Georgia will allow the candidates to be a resource teacher in the fields of Behavior Disorders, Learning Disabilities and Mental Retardation in grades P-5; to teach students in self-contained classroom for students with mild disabilities; to become a preschool special education teacher; and / or to teach all subjects in
Early Childhood Education in Grades P-5.

Students wishing to enter this program should apply for admission to Valdosta State University (http://www.valdosta.edu/admissions/) and contact the Department of Early Childhood and Reading Education (229-333-5929) for further information. Admission to the College of Education is required, which includes a 2.5 GPA, passing scores on PRAXIS I, satisfactory completion of the Regents? Testing Program, and an Introductory Course in Education.