NICEVILLE — Northwest Florida State College will begin its sixth bachelor’s degree program this fall.
The college was notified recently that the Florida Department of Education had approved its application to offer a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education.
“It’s been a need for a while and we respond, at this college, to workforce demands,” said Anne Southard, NWF State’s dean of general education and grants. “This is another rung on the career ladder we provide.”
Enrollment will open in mid-April for the fall classes. The first class likely will have about 25 students, although the college could accommodate more, Southard said.
The tuition will be comparable to other degree programs. If someone enrolled in the program as a freshman, it would cost $12,790 to complete, according to NWF State spokeswoman Sylvia Bryan.
Similar programs at other schools can cost upwards of $70,000, she said.
Cost factors aside, NWF State’s new degree also has an advantage in that it’s local. Until now, no local schools offered a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education, Southard said.
The University of West Florida offers a minor in early education at its Pensacola campus, but the bachelor’s degree is in elementary education, she added.
According to Bev Sandlin, director of the Early Childhood Education program, the new degree not only will ensure teachers are able to better prepare students for their futures, but that educators can meet changing expectations for people working in the field.
“It’s just worked out perfectly,” she said. “It’s going to increase the quality of what our youngest citizens have (in their teachers).”
Children’s brains go through critical growth from birth to age 5, and proper educational methods are key, Sandlin said.
With the new degree, students will become better at taking advantage of that important development time, she said.
The college decided to try to begin the new program now in part to meet the needs of the recent influx of young families with the Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Southard said.
But for current students such as Christy Henderson, the reasons for starting the program now don’t matter. The news was so welcome she said she was almost speechless.
“I can only imagine what this bachelor’s degree program is going to be like,” said Henderson who is wrapping up her associate’s degree. “Every bit I’ve learned, I’ve been able to apply in the classroom.”
CHECK IT OUT
People interested in enrolling in the program can learn more during a meeting from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 16 in Building Q on the Niceville campus. To reserve a spot, contact Ms. Aaron at 729-5386.
Contact Daily News Staff Writer Katie Tammen at 850-315-4440 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @KatieTnwfdn.