Master of Arts in Education Program Underway at Western; 94 students on campus for one-week intensive
Aug. 3, 2010 -- Nearly a hundred graduate students started a one-week intensive at Western State College (WSC) this week.
Master of Arts in education students during a classroom session at the WSC College Center ballroom. Nearly a hundred students are on-campus for a one-week intensive.
The Master of Arts (M.A.) in education students began their program on Sunday, just a day after the Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A) program in creative writing concluded its two-week intensive.
Both programs are in their first year and are classified as low-residency, meaning that the majority of coursework is done away from campus. For the education program, the low-residency program allows teachers to either begin teaching in the classroom or continue to teach while they earn their master’s degree.
“The use of on-line education enables us to have teachers exactly where they need to be as they earn their degree -- in schools teaching,” said Nella Bea Anderson, director of the master of arts in education program.
Three tracks are offered within the program: teacher leadership, reading leadership and educational administrator leadership.
Students in the program range from recent WSC graduates to middle-aged professionals looking to make a career change.
“The students are very diverse,” said Terri Wenzlaff, associate vice president for graduate studies. “We’ve got those who are already teachers and are looking to advance in administration, some who are working toward becoming teachers and then some from other professions who want to make a difference and begin a teaching career.”
Katherine Lovejoy is a 2010 graduate of Western who decided that she wanted to be a teacher during her senior year. She graduated with a major in Spanish. She will be teaching sixth grade in Nava, Mexico, an impoverished area she estimated to be a little larger than Gunnison.
“This is a great opportunity for me,” Lovejoy said. “I’ve always wanted to work with kids in Latin America and in this program I’ll be able to make a difference in Mexico through Western.”
All students in the program are assigned a mentor. Lovejoy’s mentor will be the director of the school. She will use on-line technology, such as Skype, a popular video conferencing program, to communicate with faculty at Western.
Katie Dye, another student in the program, is currently a kindergarten teacher at Gunnison Elementary School. She received her teacher licensure at Western two years ago and is studying in the educational administrator leadership track in the M.A. program.
“It’s very appealing to me to be a teacher and still do the program,” Dye said. “I’ll get to see more leadership roles at our school.”
Dye’s mentor for the program will be Marta Smith, principal of the Gunnison Elementary School.
Students in the program are from across Colorado, with a few out-of- state students as well. A total of 94 students are enrolled in the two-year program.
Both the faculty and administrators are pleased to have the program underway. Western began awarding master’s degrees in 1923, but the program was discontinued per state legislation in 1989. A bill signed by Gov. Bill Ritter in March 2007 granted Western authority to again offer graduate degree programs. Rep. Kathleen Curry originally drafted the bill and Sen. Gail Schwartz carried the bill in the Senate. A lengthy curriculum approval and accreditation process followed the initial signing of the bill. Both master’s programs are self-funded and operate through the Office of Extended Studies at Western.
“It’s a very exciting time to have the opportunity to offer master’s programs again,” Anderson said. “The ability to offer a master’s degree in education will help us meet the needs of experienced teachers in broadening their knowledge of the most effective instructional and leadership practices.”
Story by: Luke Mehall, assistant director of public relations and communications