Union University
Union University School of Education
Miranda Lindsey works as a student teacher at Medina Elementary

Education Story

New Program for Elementary Teachers Approved

February 18, 2008 - The faculty of Union University at their February 4 th meeting unanimously approved a new program of preparation for students at Union preparing to be teachers of young children! The School of Education, nationally accredited by NCATE and nationally honored as a Model of Excellence for moral and ethical dimensions in its learning community, after studying dozens of programs and considering policy pressures on public education and trends nationally and internationally, submitted the program proposal to the Union faculty. Union’s Teacher Education Program conceptual framework of “a teacher-student dynamic of sensitivity, reflection, and faith” along with the School of Education’s mission to prepare educators of character and competence who reflect Christ as they serve and lead in their schools and communities have provided a framework within which to create a new preparation paradigm.

The new preparation program for elementary teachers at Union University includes courses that reflect best-practices pedagogy and deepened liberal arts experiences. The pedagogy expertise of Education Faculty is combined with the academic domains of the liberal arts as required in the schools: the language arts, the social studies, mathematics, and the sciences. Students who come to Union University to prepare for a career of teaching children in preschool through grade eight will now have an enhanced preparation and wider number of choices. Current students have expressed great enthusiasm for these changes which while adding more options do not add more semester hours to the preparation program.

Instead of the current choice of a major in Learning Foundations or Liberal Studies and an education minor (which was always a large minor), Liberal Studies has been eliminated as a major and students can now do a double-major of:

  1. A new Elementary Education major and an interdisciplinary degree of a newly liberal-arts-enhanced Learning Foundations degree with a choice of emphasis in one of the four school academic domains: language arts, social studies, mathematics, or science. Or, a double-major of:
  2. A new Elementary Education major and a single liberal arts disciplinary degree in one of four school academic domains of language arts, social studies, mathematics, or science.

In addition, the new Elementary Education major is seeded with:

  • Threads of the arts, diversity, technology, and faith. The arts (art, movement, and music) are essential to children’s growth as human beings aswell as having an impact on their learning, both short term and long term. Diversity is viewed through a lens of engaging the culture of a global society. Technology is perceived as the teacher’s ultimate tool in all its forms and changing character. Faith is the cornerstone for a more reflective worldview in translating biblical values into the civic values of the public school. The School of Education is a national award winner from ILACTE (Independent Liberal Arts Colleges for Teacher Education) as a Model of Excellence for the moral and ethical dimensions of its learning community.
  • The linkage of instruction and assessment. Every course and every field experience is woven into a larger fabric of outcomes and performance, with the understanding that careful formative assessment leads to better summative products. NCATE (National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education) ensures performance-assessment standards.
  • Collaboration and cooperation with liberal arts content faculty and with the public school stakeholders. New avenues are being explored to link Education faculty and Arts and Sciences faculty in a common quest for strong preparation of elementary teachers.
  • Teaching linked to the latest in pedagogical research. Education faculty have been challenged by the demands of the School of Education’s two doctoral programs to hold continuous dialogue related to educational research.

Finally, the new preparation paradigm for Union University’s students who desire to teach children in preschool through grade eight includes grade-endorsement choices. The Elementary Education major has the potential for choices in three areas: early childhood (preschool through grade three), elementary (kindergarten through grade six), and middle grades (grade four through grade eight). Elementary Education majors may choose one, two, or all three grade-endorsements.

Thus, the “ideal preparation” for elementary teachers at Union will enable them to “move into the classrooms of the world” and will include an enhanced liberal arts grounding, with choices of interdisciplinary or single-discipline content preparation, as well as choices within the professional program of education that will benefit the children in the classrooms of society’s schools.

Here is a summary of the new Elementary Education program which will appear in the 2008-2009 Catalogue and is available now for all Union students who desire to teach young children:

New Elementary Education Major

  • Utilizes nomenclature (Elementary Education) that better describes teacher preparation
  • Changes a large “minor” into a new Elementary Education major
  • Offers grade-endorsement choices in early childhood, elementary, or middle grades
  • Integrates learning threads of the arts, diversity, technology, and faith
  • Seeks more linkage to liberal arts faculty in Social Studies, Math, Science, and Language Arts
  • Requires second major in a newly enhanced interdisciplinary Learning Foundations major, or, in a second major in a single liberal arts discipline in the liberal arts as required in the schools (Social Studies, Math, Science, Language Arts) which include:
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • English
    • History
    • Language (French, Spanish, ESL)
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Physics

Revised Learning Foundations Major

  • Includes elimination of the Liberal Studies Major
  • Enhances the Learning Foundations Major with more hours from the liberal arts in selected emphases in Social Studies, Math, Science, or Language Arts
  • Reduces Education hours
  • Adds new cross-disciplinary course “Integrative Arts in the Classroom”
  • Trims student total hours for graduation with new double major structure

The School of Education celebrates its new program approval as it has sought to answer an important guiding question, “What is the ideal preparation, within the four-year time parameters of a bachelor’s degree, for teachers of children in preschool through grade eight?”