Students enrolled in San Jacinto College’s bachelor of applied science in education program will begin classes in spring 2024. The program will give students experience in early childhood education in an effort to fill the workforce gap in this field.

“Students who attend our program will receive a high quality, supportive program that will prepare them to work with young children at a low-cost price that will not require them to take out loans that will put them in debt,” department chair Dr. Albert Talley said.

The program requires students to be in the field as they work toward their degree. Students will take courses, which include observation, within their first year in the program.

“We believe there is value in providing students with early access to the field, so they know what to expect when they enter the workforce after the completion of their degree,” Talley said. “We also believe the hands-on learning and developmentally appropriate practices throughout the program will provide students with real-world experience that will be applicable to their careers.”

By 2030, the need for highly qualified early childhood and elementary teachers in Texas is projected to increase by 13%, according to the schools’ website. Nearly 3.2 million full-time teachers were employed throughout the U.S. last fall, but many local school districts were hit hard by vacancies.

“We believe that whether a student pursues a job in a school district, head start or alternate setting there is a need for highly trained individuals to work with young children,” Talley said.

Students who have already received their associate degree of applied science in early child development and are working in this field can enroll in the program and use professional experience to count toward class credit. Additionally, students who are currently enrolled in the associate degree program can switch to the bachelor’s degree program without losing any credit hours.

“Too many times we see students who transfer into four-year programs and lose coursework, or are required to complete additional coursework leading to a larger cost of a degree or requiring students to go deeper in debt,” Talley said.

Another way the program will benefit students is allowing them to earn a higher wage when they graduate.

“Opening the doors for career and financial opportunities will make a monumental impact on our communities, our school districts, our students and their families,” Talley said.

To help launch this degree, Houston Endowment awarded San Jacinto College a $1.5 million grant through 2026.

“The Houston Endowment has been great with us and extremely supportive of the life of the program,” Talley said.

These funds will cover the required employee and operating costs during the initial two to three years of the program.

San Jacinto College intends to enroll an initial cohort of 50 students beginning in spring 2024, increasing that number to 125 for the second-year cohort.

“As an institution, we must continue to do the work of meeting our students where they are at,” Talley said. “This includes providing students with intentional support and mentorship throughout and even after their academic journey is complete. That is the only way that we can be successful as we work to strengthen our workforce and provide support to our service area constituents.”

To enroll or to learn more about the program, visit San Jacinto College’s website.

The above story was produced by Multi-Platform Journalist Mary Katherine Shapiro with Community Impact's Storytelling team with information solely provided by the local business as part of their "sponsored content" purchase through our advertising team.