University program receives new funds

The FAMU Pre-K Primary Education Program, which in recent years was granted degree status, has been issued a new program through funds from the Florida Legislature.

“We’re trying to inform students that FAMU has a program recently approved by the state,” said Gwendolyn Dixon, associate professor in early child elementary education.

The Legislature has implemented a Voluntary Pre-School.

This is a free program for children ages 4 and 5.

The pre-school is run in conjunction with the primary education program, which is looking for students interested in earning a degree in early child-care.

Through the primary education program, students obtain preparation to pass the Florida Teacher Certification Exam and are eligible to teach pre-kindergarten through third grade in Florida as well as other states.

“I came (to FAMU) in ’97, and (Pre-K Primary Education Program) were part of elementary education,” Dixon said. Students in the primary education will receive a degree in elementary education with an emphasis on primary education.

As of 2005, students have the opportunity to earn a degree in primary education rather than elementary education. “This makes them a lot more marketable,” Dixon said.

Students not only are able to teach in public schools, they are able to work in a number of childhood positions such as child life specialists in hospitals or a case workers in child and family services.

The program prepares students to work with infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school-age children through age eight in a childcare, school or human service agency setting.

“There is a real need (for students) because of the new Pre-K program implemented by the Legislature of Florida,” Dixon said.

Classes are small and structured to meet the needs of students who desire an active experience throughout their course of study.

Dana Copeland, 19, an early child care education student from Winter Haven, said, “Once you graduate, you don’t have to get your master’s degree in special education because of the many special education courses implemented in the program.”

Cases studies, role-playing, clinical experiences and audiovisual materials are also facilitated within courses. “Our emphasis is teaching students to teach the whole child,” Dixon said. She feels early childhood education is not just learning to baby-sit or merely taking physical care of children.

The program has an association, Association of Educating Young Children, an affiliate of the Early Childhood Association of Florida and the National Association for Education of Young Children.

“The main goal of the association is to promote wellness and development of young children birth to age eight,” said Latoya Keys, 21, AEYC president. The association goes out to different communities and creates community activities for young children.

Keys, a senior early childhood education student from Miami, said the association is beneficial for students majoring in education, especially early childhood education.

“Members of the association attend conferences and workshops to implement activities in classrooms and the development of children,” she said. “It’s enlightening to see how a child grows and progresses, and it’s great to know that you were a part of that.”

Prospective early childcare juniors are eligible to apply for scholarships. For more information, contact Mary E. Newell at (850) 599-3153, or visit Room 305 in the Gore Education Center.