AVON PARK - South Florida State College will offer its bachelor of science in elementary education degree this fall at the Avon Park campus, and the college has started accepting applications from prospective students.
This will be the college's third bachelor's program. The bachelor of science in nursing also comes to SFSC this fall while the bachelor of applied science in supervision and management was introduced in 2012.
The elementary education degree will prepare students to teach grades kindergarten through sixth with endorsements in English for Speakers of Other Languages and reading, the college said.
Those applying to the two-year-program have to have an associate in arts degree with three pre-education prerequisite courses - Introduction to the Teaching Profession, Introduction to Diversity for Educators, and Introduction to Technology for Educators with grades of "C" or higher, said Kimberley Dos Santos, the program's lead instructor.
Admission is limited and students also have to fulfill GPA requirements and a general knowledge test.
"Students will get to experience an exceptional cohort format with small class sizes," Dos Santos said.
She came on board in January and has a doctor of education in educational leadership and management from Capella University, a master of education in educational leadership, a bachelor of science in elementary education from the University of Central Florida, and more than seven years of teaching experience.
The program will be able to accommodate a maximum of 26 students, which Dos Santos hopes may grow in the future if there is more demand and the college can generate more funds.
"I can't wait to get into the classroom and help students develop their craft and watch them become wonderful teachers," she said. "Through this highly selective program, students will be with the same 26 students for the course of two years."
The college's current teaching preparation program lets students get an associate in arts with an emphasis in education, but students have to transfer to other schools to complete a bachelor's degree.
"This is an exciting opportunity for us at the college," said Michele DeVane, SFSC professor of education in a news release. "The development of the program has been an intensive collaborative effort between SFSC's faculty and administration. SFSC has done a significant amount of background research and data collection to provide exactly what potential students want and need from the program. Students will receive high-quality instruction, small class sizes, and a low-cost education close to home."
The elementary education degree will prepare students to teach grades K-6 while working in "diverse educational settings and with students of varying capabilities," the college said.
"Through the program, students will learn how to plan and implement lessons that integrate math and science, health, music and movement, as well as literature, fine arts, language arts, and social sciences," the news release added.
Along with Dos Santos, the college has hired another instructor while existing SFSC professors will be teaching some of the courses, Dos Santos said.
The college will use two rooms in the University Center building for the classes.
The elementary eduction program will consist of a minimum of 36 general education credits, 24 credits of lower division program electives, and 60 credits of upper-division specialized courses, the college said.
Both national and state employment projections show the need for elementary school teachers to serve a growing population, especially in Highlands, Hardee and DeSoto counties, the college said.
"The degree was developed in response to the demand from school boards and other members of the community in SFSC's district," the college added in a news release.
"It's not uncommon for our district to have a shortage of teachers available," said Leana Revell, vice president of educational and student services. "This is SFSC's contribution to make sure we have high quality teachers in our schools classrooms...This program will provide anyone interested in working with student's great satisfaction and career mobility."
As part of the program, students will observe teachers in the field, teach lessons through the practicum and internship courses, and complete a full-time teaching internship.
The college will accept applications until May 16. Dos Santos said students will be informed in the summer if they have been admitted.
For more information, go to www.southflorida.edu/academic/bsee/ or call Dos Santos at 863-784-7154.