Elementary education at KCC: New associates degree program offers cost savings, defined career path

Kellogg Community College students considering a career in elementary education now have the opportunity to pursue the first two years of their elementary education degree as part of a coordinated associates degree program designed for easy transfer to four-year schools.

Dawn Larsen (pictured above), director of Early Childhood and Teacher Education at Kellogg Community College, said with triple the number of education students at the college as they had two years ago, adding the new degree program was as simple as responding to demand from students looking to pursue a quality education and save money by starting at a community college.

“We know that more than 70 percent of tomorrow’s teachers are going to be trained at a community college,” Larsen said, “and we needed to provide a very high-quality, coordinated programming.”

The benefits of a degree in the education field are clear. According to statistics from Michigan’s Bureau of Labor Market Information & Strategic Initiatives, the median annual earnings for local kindergarten, elementary, middle and secondary teachers are $53,705. Additionally, ranked by factors including projected annual job openings, percent job growth between 2008 and 2010, and an average hourly wage of $25.10, the bureau lists elementary school teachers as number five on its list of “Michigan’s Hot 50” high-demand, high-wage careers through 2018.

Larsen said the benefits of pursuing an elementary education degree at Kellogg Community College include access to a defined career path, cost savings and an increase in communication with four-year schools. She said advising relationships are formed early on.

“Our primary partners, including Miller College and Western Michigan University, have agreed to have advisors here regularly for students, so they can begin working with those relationships right away,” she said. “They know who their advisor is from Western or Miller long before they even get there, they know what is needed before they get into the college of education at a university and they know what they have to take and do prior to getting there.”

The elementary education program at Kellogg Community College also fulfills students’ Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (MACRAO) requirements, a core of general education classes designed to facilitate transfers between community colleges and universities that meets the general education requirements at most four-year schools.

Larsen said that while students who choose to pursue an associates degree in elementary education are generally looking to transfer after two years to pursue a bachelor’s degree, there are opportunities available for those with just an associates degree who want to enter the job market right away.

“There are all kinds of positions that would be open to someone who was in education, including working in a school camp or in youth programming,” Larsen said. “You could also pick a few courses that would allow you to meet lead teacher requirements in licensed childcare centers or become a paraprofessional.”

Larsen noted that the program is manageable for students who work, and that many of the courses offer exposure to different environments and age groups, as well as observational and field experience.

For more information about the elementary education degree program at Kellogg Community College, visit www.kellogg.edu/education/secondary.html.

To sign up for the program, make an appointment with an advisor at Kellogg Community College and talk to them about your interest. You can learn more about academic advising at www.kellogg.edu/advising.