About Macon State
Macon State early childhood education majors, left to right, Ashley Coffey, Laura Knox, and Laura Sinns, are among the nearly 20 students taking classes or doing their student teaching in Monroe County.
By Sheron Smith
Ashley Coffey was among the first to sign up when she learned that Macon State College would offer early childhood education classes this fall in Monroe County.
"It cuts my driving time in half," said Coffey, 22, a junior who lives in Lamar County.
The Monroe County School System and Macon State early last summer announced a cooperative venture that gives aspiring teachers the chance to take most of the major courses leading to the bachelor of science degree in early childhood education in Monroe County.
This fall, Macon State for the first time offered classes on site in Monroe County, teaching early childhood education courses using space at Banks Stephens Middle School. Nearly 20 students are taking early childhood classes or doing their student teaching in Monroe County.
Scott Cowart, Monroe County Superintendent, said the joint venture is an excellent opportunity for Monroe County Schools to partner with Macon State in the development of high quality teacher applicants for all Middle Georgia school systems.
"We are very excited to have this degree program right in our backyard," Cowart said. "It basically affords us a chance to 'grow our own' teaching talent."
Dr. Barbara Frizzell, Macon State's vice president for academic affairs, said she expects early childhood education to be just the first of programs that Macon State will eventually teach on site in Monroe County.
"Monroe County is a vital and growing part of Macon State's service area," she said. "The early childhood program is a perfect match for this venture because a number of our education majors are from Monroe County and they were already doing field work in the Monroe County public schools."
Dr. Marti Venn, chair of Macon State's Division of Education, said the students who are most likely to take classes in Monroe County are those who live there and want to teach in their community's public schools.
"We've had a wonderful working relationship with Monroe County," she said. "The principals of the schools have really embraced our students who are getting their field experiences there and are providing true mentoring."
Macon State's bachelor of science in education degree, with a major in early childhood education, prepares teachers for grades pre-kindergarten through five. The program, launched in fall 2005 on the Macon and Warner Robins campuses, is innovative because it enables students to earn dual certification in early childhood education and special education. The program emphasizes methods of diagnosing the learning needs of individual students and tailoring instruction toward those needs.
Macon State's program positions new teachers to reach the diverse learners in Georgia's elementary schools and is a key part of the University System's initiative to increase the number of talented teachers for the state. The early childhood education program will produce its first graduates in spring 2007.