Officials with the University of Maine at Presque Isle and Northern Maine Community College officially announced on Wednesday, July 14, a partnership between the two institutions that will benefit NMCC students preparing for jobs as Head Start teachers and early childhood educators and help them to meet new state requirements for teaching in their field.
Recent state requirements have increased the qualifications for preschool teachers. Educators who teach children from birth to age 5 - and who earn their Maine teaching endorsement after July 1, 2009 - must have or be working toward a Bachelor's degree in order to teach. Right now, NMCC offers an Associate's degree program in Early Childhood Education, but there are no colleges or universities in northern Maine that offer a four-year Early Childhood Education degree.The partnership between UMPI and NMCC will create a pathway for NMCC students in the Early Childhood Education program so that, upon graduation, they can transition seamlessly into UMPI's Elementary Education Bachelor's degree program. Officials have worked for the past year to develop a new Early Childhood Education concentration within UMPI's Elementary Education degree program that will allow these students to meet the state requirements.
UMPI President Don Zillman and NMCC President Timothy Crowley led the press conference at the University's ACAP Daycare facility, located in the Campus Center, to make the official announcement about the partnership and to provide details about the new UMPI degree concentration designed specifically with NMCC's Early Childhood Education students in mind.
"We are delighted to be partnering with NMCC and helping its Early Childhood Education students in their efforts to earn their Bachelor's degrees," UMPI President Don Zillman said. "The University of Maine at Presque Isle was established as a teacher's college back in 1903 and we're very pleased to be announcing a partnership with NMCC that connects so strongly with our earliest work as an institution."
"This agreement will serve students interested in early childhood education at both institutions. The opportunity to continue beyond an Associate's degree and earn a Bachelor's degree in this field is an important opportunity for our students," NMCC President Timothy Crowley said. "We know that with additional education come greater opportunities. This agreement will provide greater opportunities for NMCC students and provide University students with access to NMCC faculty. It is a win-win partnership and we are pleased to be working with UMPI to make this happen."
NMCC's Early Childhood Education program is designed to educate childcare professionals in the skills and knowledge necessary for advanced positions in organizations and agencies that serve children. The program provides field experiences in childcare - in fact, several of NMCC's Early Childhood Education students have completed field experiences at UMPI's ACAP Daycare, where the signing ceremony was held.
"There already has been some partnering between UMPI and NMCC in the area of Early Childhood Education and we're quite pleased to be increasing our level of collaboration with NMCC in the Education field," UMPI Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Sonntag said. "We are hopeful that many students will be able to take advantage of this close-to-home opportunity to earn their Bachelor's degrees in Education and thereby meet state requirements that will allow them to teach as preschool educators."
Graduates of NMCC's Early Childhood Education program will be able to transfer their college credits to UMPI and have them apply to their Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. Upon completing specific courses in Early Childhood Education, Professional Education and in the Liberal Arts, students will earn their Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Early Childhood Education. Officials expect it will take students about 2 years to complete this University course work.
In addition, new UMPI students will have the opportunity to enter the University's Elementary Education Program and take Early Childhood Education classes at NMCC that will transfer back to their UMPI degree. Under both of these options, courses will be taught by qualified UMPI and NMCC faculty.