by Sharyn Kopf—Cedarville, Ohio
Ninety-five-year-old Geraldine Henry ’41 spent almost 40 years as a teacher … and she never went to work a day in her life. At least, that’s the way she tells it. That’s just how much she loved her job.
And that’s just the kind of teachers Cedarville University’s Department of Education sends out into the world every graduation. As a cornerstone academic program, the education department has been preparing teachers and administrators for public, private, and Christian schools for more than 100 years. But in addition to this historical presence, Cedarville is known for producing the kind of graduates schools want.
“Our students have a strong reputation,” says Dr. Stephen Gruber, chair of the department. “They’re Christ-like and competent, which makes them very attractive to schools.”
This is seen not only in the local schools that seek out Cedarville students to fill internships and open positions, but also in the public schools that ask for them. “They have a lot of enthusiasm, excitement, and energy,” says Gruber, “and they don’t bring issues that others might have.” Much of that comes from attending a school that sets standards in dress and behavior and encourages a strong work ethic, all of which is exhibited for students by the Cedarville faculty.
“My professors daily model the excellence in teaching and godly character that they work to cultivate in students like me,” says Hillary Simpson ’09, an early childhood education major. “They are always willing to invest their time into my development as an individual as well as a future educator.”
Professors integrate biblical principles, Christian philosophy and worldview, and character and ethics into all of their education courses. They intend to prepare students from the inside out. Like all programs at Cedarville University, a Bible minor is required for graduation.
For Ruth Hess, an adjunct education instructor, the strength of the education department lives and breathes through the caring professionals that make up the faculty and staff. “We are committed to helping students refine the abilities and character qualities that mark a great teacher,” she says.
Another hallmark of Cedarville’s education program is its emphasis on practical experience. Gruber points out their determination to get students into classrooms early and often.
“They’re actually doing clinical work,” he continues. “It also helps them get a feel for whether education is what they really want to do.”
And the students agree. “From conversations I have had with other education majors at different colleges, I’ve realized that the field experience requirements in Cedarville’s education program have really helped prepare us better for our future classrooms,” shares Charity Hancock ’09, an integrated language arts education major. “The hours we spend interacting with students, both observing and teaching, are truly beneficial.”
These opportunities are not limited to the States, as the department also offers overseas teaching options. Approximately 10 percent of Cedarville’s senior education students pursue cross-cultural teaching experiences, demonstrating the school’s unprecedented commitment to preparing teachers for global ministry. This focus on outreach meshes well with a student body that is intensely ministry-minded.
Many students get 12 to 13 weeks of experience in other countries, often teaching English as a second language on summer missions trips. And a large number of that group chooses to stay on and begin teaching full-time at that school, becoming, in essence, missionaries. “We have students teaching all around the world,” says Gruber.
To further meet the needs of its students, the department is in the process of gaining national accreditation. It has been preparing for three years and will have the requisite onsite visit with the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education in March 2009.
“We’ve always had state accreditation,” Gruber says, “but this will really strengthen our graduates teaching credentials. It gives them an edge.”
One of the ways Cedarville prepares its students is by instructing them in the philosophy of education. It’s typically the last course taken before — or during — student teaching. According to Gruber, it lets students know what they will face upon entering the school system and how they should respond, processing current issues through a biblical worldview.
Another edge is the master of education degree, which is entering its ninth consecutive term with record enrollment. As it continues to grow, Gruber believes the M.Ed. program has the potential to go a long way. “It’s the first graduate program Cedarville University has offered,” he says, “and it builds on the tradition and heritage of the undergraduate program.”
If you’re ready to pursue a career that’s fun, rewarding, and doesn’t feel like work, consider an education degree at Cedarville University!