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New opportunities for elementary and early childhood education majors

Cabrini Rudnicki, Co-News Editor

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Wilkes University has announced  changes to the Elementary and Early Childhood Education Department. An agreement with Lackawanna College as well as a new online program were announced recently.

A new articulation agreement has been met with Lackawanna College. Lackawanna graduates can transfer to Wilkes to complete their bachelor’s degree. Students from Lackawanna who have completed an associate degree in early childhood education can transfer into the major as a junior at Wilkes.

The agreement was signed by President Patrick F. Leahy and Lackawanna College President Mark Volk on March 27.

Cabrini Rudnicki
Pictured seated left to right is Wilkes University President Patrick F. Leahy and Lackawanna College President Mark Volk. Standing left to right is Lackawanna College Academic Dean, Suzanne Cercone; Lackawanna College Vice President of Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer, Erica Barone Pricci; Lackawanna College Social Science Division Chair, Nicole Bradigan; Wilkes University Provost and Senior Vice President, Anne Skleder; Wilkes University Dean of the School of Education, Rhonda Rabbitt; and Wilkes University Associate Professor and Chair of the Undergraduate Education Program, Suzanne Galella.

Dr. Rhonda Rabbitt, dean of education at Wilkes University welcomed the crowd at the signing.

“There comes moments in history where things come into an alignment,” she said. “There is a lot of talk about the budget in early childhood education, and there is a lot of talk in the field about poor quality childcare, lack of access, lack of people who are working with our most vulnerable population of students.

“All of those are coming together at the same time, and all of us in higher education have a chance to make a difference.”

Dr. Anne Skleder, Wilkes University provost, spoke about the crisis of early childhood education further.

“By 2028, to hold the highest rating in a childcare center…a hundred percent of those teachers need to be bachelor prepared. We are no way there, and we will not be there save for programs we are announcing today,” said Skleder.

Volk spoke about the unique situation most Lackawanna students are in. According to Volk, 82 percent of families in the college are at or below the poverty line.

“When we look at (our student’s) ability to raise themselves up into the middle class, it is  a major challenge,” said Volk. “We can provide pathways to provide opportunities for those young men and women to move from our campus to (Wilkes.)”

Amy Hnasko, assistant education professor at Wilkes, also spoke about the new online program.

According to Hnasko, the new online program is what prompted the articulation agreement with Lackawanna.

“The online bachelors requires that you have an associates before entering the program,” said Hnasko.

In the program, early childhood educators with at least 55 credits can now earn their bachelor’s degree online at Wilkes. A scholarship through the Pennsylvania Child Care Association is available for students who qualify. 

A similar agreement with Luzerne County Community College was announced in December 2018.

For more information on both programs, prospective students can call the Wilkes Admission office at (570) 408-4400.

A similar agreement with Luzerne County Community College was announced in December of 2018.

For more information on both programs, prospective students can call the Wilkes Admission office at (570) 408-4400.

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New opportunities for elementary and early childhood education majors