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CSU’s Department of Education Rises to the Challenge

Clarks Summit University’s Department of Education continues to grow and evolve, producing trained teachers and administrators who rise to the challenge in a difficult time for educational institutions across the country.

Teachers in Demand

In a 2021 survey, 75% of city school districts across America reported having a teacher shortage, with 65% of rural districts reporting the same. The National Education Association (NEA) called the teacher shortage across the country “severe.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Education shared at the fall 2021 meeting of Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Teacher Educators that they have never offered as many emergency teacher certificates as they have in the past year. The lack of substitute teachers has only compounded the problem. School resources are over-taxed, and both public and private schools are working without the teachers they need.

CSU’s Answer to Teaching Shortage

“We have seen the issue of shortages and continue to offer a quality program here at CSU to get our graduates trained, certified and ready to teach both in public and private school classrooms,” said Dr. Ritch Kelley, dean of the School of Education at Clarks Summit University. “Teaching is a ministry. So many kids need one person to care, just one.

“Whether you are in a public, Christian, charter or online school, it is an opportunity to impact the next generation,” said Kelley. “It really fits with our mission here at CSU. Teaching is Christ-centered. Even in a public school where you may not be able to publicly share your faith, you don’t stop being a Christian. You don’t stop making a difference. And our graduates are making a huge difference in classrooms around the country and around the world.”

Career and Classroom Ready

Senior Shelby Brownlee is an Early Child Education major at CSU with a minor in Special Education. “CSU has given me tools, processes and skills to teach effectively,” Brownlee said. “I am better prepared to meet the needs of my future students. I want to always consider what each student needs and figure out how I can provide that. I also have seen how practical the program is here at CSU. Because so much of it is hands on, I have really been able to test if this is the right career path for me. It’s given me the confidence to keep moving forward.”

Clarks Summit University offers accredited undergraduate degree programs in elementary and secondary teaching programs. Students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in education have a strong foundation to work on their master’s degree. They can also leave CSU eligible to apply for two certifications—one from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and one from the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI). CSU offers both elementary and secondary bachelor’s degrees as well as a Master of Education program.

New Master’s Program Coming Soon

CSU offers a concentration in Curriculum and Instruction at the master’s level, and the university is developing another Master of Education concentration. “This degree will be a good fit for teachers already in the classroom,” said Kelley.

Act 48, passed in 1999, meant that all Pennsylvania teachers need to have ongoing professional education. “Teachers need to continue their training to stay current,” explained Kelley. “I think it’s wonderful that a teacher cannot say ‘I already have a degree, so I’m set.’ Education and teaching methods are changing. The best teachers are great students. They are always learning.”

CSU Ranks High

The National Council on Teacher Quality, an independent organization that looks at each state and ranks schools who train teachers, reviewed colleges and universities in Pennsylvania. In the latest review for 2021, CSU ranked fourth in the state for their elementary education students’ test scores. “That is to God’s glory because our great faculty and the students He brings here who are serious about what they are doing,” said Kelley.

In line with their mission, CSU graduates are not only Christ-centered, but career-ready. CSU assesses the education program each year, and training is updated giving students the tools and skills needed to teach the next generation and train career-ready individuals who will make a difference.

Alumni making a difference

CSU alumnus Dan Durrwachter (’09) held positions as a middle school and high school science teacher at public schools in Indiana before accepting a position as principal of the Blair Pointe Elementary School with the Peru Community School District, in Peru, Indiana. In 2018, Durrwachter was promoted to assistant superintendent of the Peru Community School District.

“Through it all, our prayer was that God would use my wife Sarah and I in a community through public education and help us to make the greatest impact possible,” said Durrwachter. “Our influence at first was at the student level in the classroom. Now, we are looking at hopefully making an impact on 300 employees and over 2,000 kids.”

“In my experience, I’ve received interviews and had doors open for me because I’ve graduated from a Bible college,” Durrwachter said. “My time at BBC (now CSU) gave me a biblical perspective and great biblical training that was the foundation for my career. It prepared me to be able to make a difference in the secular workplace and in my community…At CSU, students are trained to be leaders. I feel that CSU provided leadership training, not just Bible training. I think that has made a huge difference in my life and my career.”

CSU’s students, alumni and faculty in the university’s Department of Education are passionate about teaching and committed to leaving a legacy. Kelley, who recently hit a milestone of 20 years as a faculty member at CSU, said, “I can’t see myself doing anything else. This is who I am and what God designed me to do. I’ve always loved teaching. People may ask, ‘Why go into teaching?’ My answer is—it’s the impact you can have on a child’s life. And you don’t know where that’s going to end.”

Learn more about teacher education programs at CSU:

Associate Degree:

Bachelor’s Degrees:

Master’s Degrees:

 

—by Julie Jeffery Manwarren

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