DepartMentalElementary and Middle Grades Education: Teaching, the Final Frontier?

Teaching is not the most glamorous profession or even the most respected, but it is one of the most important professions. So this week I am highlighting WCU’s Elementary and Middle Grades Education Department.

The department offers students two different tracks, elementary education and middle grades education. The elementary education track is more generalistic in nature, and it certifies students to teach K-6 (kindergarten-sixth grade). The reason this track is more general is because teachers in these grades are required to teach the entire curriculum.

The middle grade education is more specific, and students will be certified to teach grades 6-9. They can be licensed in language arts, math, science, or social studies. According to Dr. Lester Laminack, head of the department, most students either are licensed in language arts and social studies or math and science.

Teachers are a commodity, and the need will only grow larger. Laminack said, “The greatest area of need is in math and science in the middle schools.”

In addition to the two tracks, the department also offers students the ability to add a licensure for reading education. This allows students more job opportunities.

Another option for major is in selecting a DFA or Discipline Focus Area. Students can complete their DFA in a number of different areas. However, only a DFA in language arts or math can lead to licensure. The reason for this is that the course work for the DFA (in language arts and math) is the same that is required for licensure.

With this licensure, students are given more opportunities. For example, a elementary education student who takes that course will be licensed to teach at the middle grade levels in one of the two areas.

In addition to a DFA, students are required to gain practical experience through an internship. During the course of the internship the student gains the teacher’s perspective on teaching. Students attend faculty meetings and parent-teacher conferences and teach classes.

In addition to the internship, the students take a senior seminar to discuss their experiences. This is the forum where topics such as school violence and the like are discussed. In preparation for the internship, students are required to observe in classes one day a week.

In addition practical experience, students gain the academic background from faculty who are well known in the realm of education. Faculty in the department are involved in a variety of education activities from writing children’s books to consulting school districts across the county. The faculty is very involved in education.

Laminack adds that all the faculty in the department have practical teaching experience in the public school system.

Students who are interested in making teaching a career, a very noble career at that, should contact the department of elementary and middle grades education at 227-7108 or stop by their office in room 247 of the Killian building.