Anderson University’s School of Education is pioneering a new early childhood education program. Last fall was the developmental stage for the program, during which courses were crafted and decisions were made on what the program would be like. Classes began for the new early childhood education program in spring 2012.
The program is unique in that it is based on the Greenleaf Servant Leadership model, which indicates that to be a leader, one must first be a servant. “In order to eventually lead a population, children, or community, you first have to learn to serve them,” said Dr. Amber Reed, associate professor of education. “Then, you earn the right to lead them.”
The program is comprised of a set of five progressive classes that build on one another. “All of the classes have a service-learning component,” said Reed. “You have to first learn about people and their needs before you can teach them. So, the first two semesters of the early childhood program are about earning trust and being informed.”
The first class teaches students the foundations of early childhood development. The second is a research-based class where students are instructed on educational laws, governmental issues, policies, and community issues, which all impact families and children.
The third and fourth classes bring students into the field. They are first placed in infant and toddler rooms, learning the basics of diaper changing and napping procedures, while also learning to work with families. Students are then moved to work with pre-school through kindergarten-aged children.
In the fifth class, each student is required to complete a full-time internship in May of their senior year, working with a nonprofit. This internship is usually based on an area where the student feels they need to strengthen their servant-leadership skills. Some of the specialties where students choose to complete their internships include administration, social services, or special needs children. To conclude the early childhood education program, students learn to teach in kindergarten classrooms.
Although many other schools offer early childhood education programs, the School of Education has worked to make their program stand out. “What makes our program unique from other places is that we are considering early childhood to be from conception to age eight or third grade,” said Reed. “Indiana is changing and there is now more of a push toward understanding early childhood as a specialized professional field.”
— Corinne Schmitt is a senior from Geneva, Ill., majoring in communication arts. Schmitt is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.