By Rachel Gobep
This fall, the Early Childhood Education program at Youngstown State University will offer a dual licensure program that will open new opportunities to education graduates.
Once the program is implemented, students who are training for their Early Childhood Education license will also receive an Early Childhood Education Intervention Specialist license. Students with this dual license will be able to teach in special education classrooms and to teach English to speakers of other languages.
Kathleen Cripe, the associate professor of the Department of Teacher Education, and Crystal Ratican, the assistant professor of the Department of Teacher Education, have been working on blending the coursework of both licenses for two years.
“The Ohio Dean’s Compact Association came up with a grant, which they sent out to all Ohio universities asking if anyone wanted to send in a proposal to create a dual licensure program,” Cripe said.
Ratican said the education department received $225,000 to fund the program over two years.
“Teacher candidates will be able to apply for a pre-kindergarten through third grade Early Childhood Education license, a kindergarten through third grade Early Childhood Education Intervention Specialist license and a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) endorsement,” Ratican said.
“There are a few other universities that do the blended program with Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Intervention Specialist, but we are the first to offer it with TESOL,” Ratican said.
Charles Howell, dean of the Beeghly College of Education, said employment in Early Childhood Education is competitive, but students who graduate with the Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Education Intervention Specialist dual license have an advantage over those with an early childhood education degree.
“When we asked principals and superintendents who they would hire if they had someone with an early childhood degree versus an early childhood intervention specialist degree, they unanimously said they would hire the second one,” he said.
Ratican said the updated program will provide more employment opportunities for future teachers.
“Potential teachers will be prepared to teach all students inside a classroom. This program will help teacher candidates to increase their marketability when graduating. They will possess knowledge pertaining to early childhood education, special education and TESOL,” she said.
It was essential for the Beeghly College of Education to offer this major because classroom settings have changed from what they once were, Cripe said.
“In past years, special education students were in their own classroom, but that’s not the way it is anymore,” she said. “They are in the classroom with the general education students, so it is an inclusive classroom.”
There are students who are pushing back their graduation date by a couple years so they can graduate with the new dual license.
“We have spoken to many teachers who are already out in the field, and they think this program is wonderful,” she said.