Central Baptist College recently presented its first education degree, and a large number of students have declared majors in two new education programs.
Shanda New, chair of the education department at CBC, said she was tasked five years ago with developing bachelor’s degrees in education at CBC. Before that, aspiring educators attending the school could only earn an associate’s degree at CBC.
“They had to go somewhere else or change their major to stay here,” New said. “We lost some good, promising teachers.”
Over the course of a few years, New created degree plans, aligned them with state requirements and proposed her plans to the Arkansas Department of Education, which awards teaching licenses.
“Any college can have a degree in education, but it’s not worth much unless it leads to licensure,” she explained.
The school offers degrees in secondary English language arts, secondary social studies, K-12 health and physical education, elementary education and middle school education. The latter two will open in the fall of 2014, and the others opened in the fall of 2013, New said.
“We have about 70 students who have declared one of the BSE programs as their major, which for an institution the size of CBC is significant,” she said.
The first graduate of the program is John Atkins of Conway, a native of Pangburn, Ark. He came to CBC in the fall of 2009 as a baseball recruit. New said Atkins finished all his other coursework at CBC while waiting for the BSE program to become available. He completed two internships — one at Vilonia High School, where he completed his senior level observation, and the second at Morrilton High School, where he completed his student teaching.
Atkins said, “The education department at CBC is unbelievably good at their job. They’re very knowledgeable. They’re very down-to-earth. They’ll help you with whatever you need. When I was taking my Praxis exam, I was not confident at all. They gave me all kinds of stuff — practice exams, websites to go to. They even offered for me to come by the office on weekends and go through a practice session. I wish all college students had the experience I had with the education department at CBC.”
Atkins will start a position teaching social studies this fall in the Batesville School District. He is working on his coaching certification through AAA this summer and hopes to get his foot in the door as a coach at his new job, he said. He also plans to attend graduate school at the University of Central Arkansas, where he will work toward his master’s degree in education.
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