When Dr. Angila Moffitt became the director of early childhood education program in 2020 for Northwestern, she brought with her a wide collection of experience in education. Her time spent in various educational settings helped her to recognize the needs that are working to be filled by NW’s new online early childhood education program.
Moffitt said, “As a former elementary, high school and special education teacher along with a principal background, I found a gap that needed to be filled in the early childhood profession.”
This gap comes from a shortage of early childhood educators in Iowa. The need for teachers in America has inspired both national and state efforts that work towards helping students earn education degrees.
One such effort is the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) federal grant program. Since its creation in 2007, this grant program has assisted several students in their ability to earn a degree in education.
While grant programs like TEACH help alleviate some of the financial barriers to earning an educational degree, other barriers still exist, especially for working adults. A lack of easy access to an on-campus school and student teaching opportunities can prevent working adults from being able to become teachers. Many working adults find it difficult to manage the length, time and course load of teaching degree programs alongside their work, family and personal responsibilities.
That’s where NW’s new online bachelor’s degree program comes in. Students can earn a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, and there is a licensure pathway as well. Graduates will be prepared to teach pre-kindergarten through third grade.
The program is designed for students with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree that want to earn their BA to become early childhood teachers working in daycare centers, preschools and grade schools.
Coursework is entirely online and can be completed at the student’s own pace and convenience. Each course lasts eight weeks, and students can begin their program in the fall, spring or summer semester. Students can complete their teaching degree in two and a half to three years.
Despite the program taking place entirely online, students will still receive the same kind of training and personal attention as in NW’s traditional early childhood degree program.
Moffitt said, “Our online program is set up with the goal of taking care of our students, whether it is answering student questions, finding the answers to student’s questions or going out of our way to add the personal touch that a student might need.”
There will be small class sizes to ensure that students are not just a number, and online students will have complete and constant access to professors through email and phone. Required field experience and student teaching can be arranged in a student’s local area.
Beginning in January 2022, NW’s online early childhood education program will give working adults easier access to course work in order to become teachers and fulfill the community’s need for early childhood educators.