Officials recently announced the addition of a new master’s degree program in elementary teaching.
The new program is geared toward adult students holding a bachelor’s degree in any discipline who wish to teach elementary-age students.
The program comes as a response to the current shortage of elementary school teachers in Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma City school districts in particular.
Dr. Lois Lawler-Brown, chairwoman of the department of education, said OCU is committed to elementary education.
“We already offer undergraduate programs for elementary education,” Lawler-Brown said. “A graduate program seemed like a natural progression.”
Education department officials hope the program will attract adults looking to change their career path who want to make a difference in the Oklahoma education system.
The program will feature compressed eight-week courses that take place in the evening, allowing students to work another job during the day for much of the program.
The certification can be achieved in three semesters, with the master’s degree received after two further semesters of in-classroom study.
Lawler-Brown said she thinks OCU’s location will draw many students to this program.
“There’s been a dramatic population increase in the past few years in the city, which means the schools have also grown tremendously,” Lawler-Brown said. “Because of this, there were huge amounts of openings for teachers that weren’t filled.”
Lawler-Brown said state public school districts were so desperate for teachers, they are hiring teachers internationally to fill the spots. The district also made the public aware of its teacher shortages. In response, many adults expressed interest to the department of education about getting teaching degrees.
The program will be taught by OCU’s professional education faculty on campus. It will begin in Summer 2015.
Adding new teachers to the public school system can only benefit the students, Lawler-Brown said.
“It’s not fair for a child to have to be with a substitute teacher the entire year,” Lawler-Brown said. “We want to change that.”
The program also will contribute to a stronger connection between OCU and the Oklahoma City Public School system. The master’s program will work directly with the school district to provide student teaching opportunities and internships.
Lawler-Brown said she also hopes the new program provides job networking opportunities for the students.
“I’m hoping that this program solidifies our already strong relationship and collaboration with Oklahoma City Public Schools,” Lawler-Brown said. “I know they’ll want to hire our graduates.”
Hannah Mitcham, education junior, said the program will be a positive addition for graduate students and the community.
“I think it is a great way for adults to follow their dreams, but I think it’s even more important to elementary students,” Mitchum said. “It isn’t just about getting more teachers. It’s about getting better teachers.”
For more information about the new program, contact education department chairwoman Lawler-Brown at 405-208-5374.