By Alyssa Ramsfield
Saint Martin’s University is in constant expansion. This includes additions to their growing number of majors offered. As of this year, the university will be up to 25 programs specific to qualifying students for jobs outside of the classroom. One of the new programs for the 2014-2015 school year includes a bachelor of arts degree in educational studies.
“The educational studies program is designed to teach individuals the best teaching practices to support learning and how to administer learning programs,” explains dean of the College of Education and Counseling Psychology, Joyce Westgard, Ph.D. “While it does not lead to teacher certification, it provides students with the in-depth knowledge and skills necessary to become effective teachers in those non-school careers in which teaching is an important element.” This newest degree program adds breadth to Saint Martin’s well-regarded education offerings, which includes bachelor’s programs in elementary education, special education and secondary education, which provides initial teaching certification, as well as master of education (MED) and master in teaching (MIT) programs.
“There are many people who want to learn how to be in a learning environment and work within community organizations,” specifies Westgard. “Students who graduate from this program will be able to work with many groups of people and develop programs that are community based. They will be able to prepare presentations and manage groups. They will take on leadership roles with groups of youth and adults.”
There are five areas of focus for this new program: Community Education, Early Childhood Education, Foundation Studies in Education and Culture, Health and Fitness, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). These five focus areas are intended to help the student find a focused career using their degree. Some of the job opportunities available to graduates of the program include working with children at HeadStart, daycare facilities, a classroom paraeducator, coaching, recreation programs, career centers, non-profits, tribal programs, English as a second language education, and technical writing.
“Each focus is individualized for the student within the cohort,” explains Westgard. “One third of the program is made up of college level education courses and another third is hand picked by the student for their focus. We are trying to keep these credits in line with their career path. The final third is made up of electives which again are picked based on their focused program.”
“We’ve had students move on from similar programs that have been individualized and work in some incredible community organizations,” says Westgard. Some of these organizations include zoos, state legislature, and the continuing education system. “Many international students who are interested in education go back to their home countries with this degree and can take on leadership roles in their community.”
Innovative degrees such as the newly offered educational studies continue to put Saint Martin’s University at the top of education. “The Fall cohort is looking great and we hope to grow from there,” says Westgard. “Some students were waiting at the doorstep and ready to go on this journey. It’s really all about developing a program that helps to lead students in the direction of writing, presenting, and leading our community.