By Lauren Grimaldi
In 2016, Roosevelt’s College of Education (COE) will begin offering something to students that is not offered at most four-year institutions in the state. A new program that allows child-care workers with associate degrees in the Applied Sciences (AAS) to apply all 66-credit hours to a four year degree in early childhood education will come to fruition next year after years of planning.
“The idea started about 2011 when I noticed that an organization called Gateways for Opportunity offers an employment credential for early childhood educators who have completed a BA degree but not a teacher licensure program,” Dean of the College of Education Thomas Philion said. “I asked our early childhood faculty to connect with Gateways about this credential, and how Roosevelt might be able to offer it.”
Philion then credited Associate Professor Toni Potenza as someone who played a large role in the process of this program coming to be.
“One of our goals on the grant was to find a smoother pathway for students wanting to transfer from the community college to Roosevelt and earn a BA,” Potenza said. “The AAS is considered a workforce training degree, as opposed to an AA or AS which is often transferred as the first two years of a four year degree.”
Potenza added that the COE worked with Harper College and Harold Washington to come to the conclusion that the credits from all AAS courses should transfer.
Previously, only some of the credits from such associate’s degrees were accepted for the program. The College of Education believes that this new and unique opportunity will lead to an easier degree track for those in the field.
“For students who want to pursue a career in childcare or child advocacy, accepting the AAS in its entirety – all early childhood and general education courses in the AAS program – means that students can move on to a BA degree without having to repeat coursework, can gain skills that will strengthen their employability and will have the option to pursue teacher licensure if that becomes their goal,” Potenza says.
Roosevelt’s new program is not common amongst other Illinois colleges, but that is exactly what Philion believes will set the University apart from others when prospective education students are making their choice as to where to go.
“This agreement to accept in full the AAS degree in early childhood from community colleges is pathbreaking, a really innovative program that is not in place anywhere else in Illinois,” Philion said. “Consequently, it is about as different as you can get, providing a much more efficient and less expensive transfer of community college credit than has existed up to this point.”