New transfer agreement with LCCC for early education majors

Sean Schmoyer, Asst. News Editor

Faculty from both Luzerne County Community College and Wilkes University met on Dec. 18 for the signing of a new agreement that will allow LCCC graduates, with an associates degree in in early childhood education, to more affordably and more easily transfer to Wilkes to acquire their bachelor’s degree.

Rhonda Rabbit, dean of the school of education at Wilkes University, spoke about the agreement.

“The certification that we offer is early childhood and elementary education, but you can get a pre-K through fourth (grade) certification which is just early childhood education. Right now nationwide [the major] has been identified as a crisis area. That is why I am really proud and excited that we are apart of the solution to address that issue.”

Students at LCCC who graduate with a minimum overall grade point average of 3.0 and complete the Praxis Core or Preservice Academic Performance Assessment with passing scores can not only transfer their credits over to Wilkes, but they also do not need to go through the transcript review process and are marked as a third year student in the Wilkes education program.

“What we have for the first time is a contract with a community college that will put more qualified educators into classrooms for early childcare. Too many times they are minimum wage paid people and transicient. This is about getting more qualified teachers in the program and professionalizing it so that it is a part of the K-12 school system. We are the only program in the state of PA that is affordable and accessible. The only other institution that comes close is Drexel University…but the difference is the price,” said Rabbitt.

Dr. Anne Skleder, the university’s provost, discussed the importance of the program for Wilkes University, as well as for the field as a whole. “From my vantage point, I see this as the perfect match between Wilkes’ historic commitment to meeting the needs of the community and a crisis in a lack of professional early education specialists. Many young people at the most formative age are being educated by those who have very little education. We want to make sure that those working in those fields are educated as much as they can possibly be. What we know is that the major constraints are finances and time.”This agreements allows for people who work during the day and have families to be able to go through these courses with ease. The education courses offered are available online and in an affordable manner, making the those constraints as nonexistent as possible.

Rosana Reyes, vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Development at LCCC, related the program to LCCC’s own mission of accessibility.

“[The mission] is all about providing opportunity for students regardless of their income or past academic performances, or even for those who are not able to relocate. What this program does specifically is that it continues to expand [students’] access to a bachelor’s degree.”

Reyes and Rabbitt expressed that this agreement allows students to feel that Wilkes is an affordable and accessible option for their higher levels of education.

“(LCCC) reaches back to high schools and ask how can we increase the success of students. We have over a thousand students taking dual enrollment classes, one of the major things we did was discount tuition for high school students to as low as $40 a credit, so that they can participate regardless of family income,” said Reyes.

Reyes, Rabbitt and Skleder all expressed the success and importance of this agreement and the potential for this agreement with LCCC to be expanded to other community colleges not just in state but also out of state. The end goal of this agreement is to take the pathway from high school education, to community college, to a private institution like Wilkes University and make it more affordable and accessible.

“I would like to emphasis the leadership of dean Rabbitt and the faculty of the education department, the support of Dr. Cooper, Dr. Galella, and President Leahy, and the help of the  finance committee, and Dr. Bill Grant a board member who has spent his life in early childhood education. I would also like to mention and thank our friends at PNC Bank who provided both financial and moral support to fight the crisis of early childhood education,” said Skleder.