Seven in-service teachers from Paulding County today became the first cohort from Kennesaw State University’s Bagwell College of Education to graduate with master’s degrees in early childhood education from the Paulding Learning Site.
“It’s the best master’s group I have ever had,” said Anita VanBrackle, Paulding site director and professor of elementary and special education. “It’s like a family; it really is.”
Several years ago, in an attempt to meet the needs of aspiring teachers who live in Paulding County, the Bagwell College, in partnership with Georgia Highlands College, established a “2+2” program for early childhood education majors. The initiative allows students to complete their undergraduate degree programs at the Paulding Learning Site. Georgia Highlands offers the first two years of coursework, and KSU offers the last two.
“As an extension of this initiative, Bagwell was eager to offer an advanced program for classroom teachers working in Paulding County,” said Bagwell College Dean Arlinda Eaton. “We are delighted to see the first cohort of candidates graduating with a master’s degree focused on instructional effectiveness that ultimately enhances the learning of their K-5 students. It is our hope to be able to offer the program to additional Paulding County cohorts.”
As part of their master’s coursework, students were required to do a research project, focused on a topic of their choosing.
“Their research was focused, and it was something they were interested in, so they did it because they wanted to, not because it was required,” VanBrackle said. “All the research was phenomenal.”
One of the students researched whether positive reinforcement helped student achievement levels – it did – while another combined two different types of reading programs to enrich reading vocabulary and another combined two different strategies for learning sight words.
“It was just remarkable how significant the difference was in student achievement when positive reinforcement was factored in,” VanBrackle said. “Another significant finding was students who came to kindergarten knowing their ABCs began reading faster. While that’s common sense, we now have the study to show that common sense is true.”
With more and more master’s courses being offered in an online format, VanBrackle said the Paulding site caters to students who want face-to-face instruction close to home.
-- Jennifer Hafer