Shorter University’s School of Education will add a new major in Special Education General Curriculum and Early Childhood Education beginning Fall 2016. The program will allow a student completing the major to be eligible for Georgia initial certification in both special education and early childhood education, P-5.
Shorter’s program is the only ECE/SPED, P-5th grade program offered within a 90-mile radius of Rome, according to Dr. Norma Harper, dean of Shorter’s School of Education.
“We are very excited to offer this new program to our current and future teacher candidates,” Dr. Harper said. “In addition to experiencing our great early childhood program, our candidates will now have the opportunity to experience the same high quality rigor of coursework and field experiences, but with a focus on special education students.”
The distinctive focus of the major allows Shorter to offer candidates intensive and extensive coursework and field experiences in both special education and early childhood education. The program will enhance Shorter’s existing partnerships with schools as they collaborate to provide field experiences in both areas, Dr. Harper said.
In addition, the program provides Shorter the opportunity to prepare candidates to serve in the critical needs area of special education.
“The major in Special Education General Curriculum and Early Childhood Education further exemplifies Shorter’s commitment to prepare future educators who keep ‘Learners First,’” said Dr. Dana King, assistant professor of education and director of middle grades education at Shorter. “As the demands of the classroom intensify, our candidates will be ready to meet the learning needs of all students, including students with disabilities. Special education continues to be a critical field in education. Current trends indicate that the number of students in Georgia receiving special education services will increase 5 to 15% from 2014 to 2026. The new program is an asset for our local schools by meeting staffing demands, an advantage for our teacher candidates by increasing their marketability, but most importantly, an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children.”
LaDonna Turrentine, principal of Johnson Elementary School and a graduate of Shorter, added, “I am so excited that my alma mater is now offering an early childhood/special education program. Special education is such a necessary component for schools. As an administrator of Johnson Elementary School, it is my top priority to make sure that all the needs of my students are met. I rely heavily on the talented teachers at JES, especially the teachers that work with our special needs students.
“The special education teachers have unique training that equips them to create, teach, and provide individualized instructional goals for the students,” Turrentine added. “These individualized goals direct students to reach their full potential and reach the goal of Destination Graduation. This new program at Shorter will provide so many opportunities for teachers but mostly for our students. It will also be a benefit to the communities of Floyd County and Rome City so that all of our students will be learning ready. Who knows what all they will accomplish!”
Rodney Stewart, principal of Armuchee Elementary School, described the new major as a “win-win situation for all parties involved.”
“Earning two certifications should make students who graduate from this program more attractive as employees, thus increasing their chance for employment,” Stewart said. “This new program will fill a void in special education-teacher training and have a great impact on students as it gives schools more flexibility in hiring quality candidates. Everybody wins with this program, and it is very exciting for education and our community.”
Dr. Harper added that future teachers who study in the Special Education program at Shorter will be well prepared for careers in the classroom. “Obtaining teaching certification in two distinct fields allows graduates more opportunities to secure an initial teaching position,” she said. “In addition, graduates of the program may select to further their education pursuing either early childhood education or special education given they will have a solid foundation in both. In schools, having expertise in both areas may open up more opportunities to be teacher leaders which may lead to an advanced certification level, not to mention having experience to pursue areas of school leadership, including serving as the lead special education teacher, interventionist, or instructional lead teacher.”
Founded in 1873, Shorter University is a Christ-centered, four-year liberal arts university committed to excellence in education. The Princeton Review annually includes Shorter on its list of best Southeastern Colleges. The university offers traditional bachelor’s degrees in 40 areas of study, online courses and degree programs, undergraduate programs for working adults, and four master’s programs. Learn more about Shorter at www.shorter.edu.