Early Childhood, Elementary and Literacy Education

The department of Early Childhood, Elementary, and Literacy Education offers rigorous programs that prepare teacher professionals. Our vision is to transform education in the State of New Jersey by preparing early childhood, elementary and literacy educators who demonstrate teaching excellence, democratic practice and a commitment to social justice and inclusivity, and who are equipped to recognize and disrupt systemic and social inequality.

We offer the following certification and certificate programs:

  • Initial certification in:  Early childhood (preschool - grade 3),  Elementary (kindergarten - grade 6) education
  • Additional certification in:  Teacher of Students with Disability, Reading Specialist, and Bilingual and Bicultural Education.
  • Certificate programs in: Developmental Models of Autism Intervention and Learning Technologies.

We also offer the following Master Degree programs:

  • Master of Arts in Reading
  • Master of Education in Inclusive Education

Mission Statement

Our mission is to prepare professionals who possess the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that are grounded in the following ideals:

  • Respect for the value and high expectations for the learning of every person is a fundamental principle of teaching and learning.
  • All students must be engaged in meaningful and intellectually rigorous learning.
  • Collaboration with families, schools and communities is imperative.
  • Teaching and learning are social processes with political implications.
  • Educators are cultural and political workers who acknowledge their role in a democracy through the promotion of inclusivity and social justice.
  • Critical education is a transformative process that works to change "what is" while simultaneously preparing people to participate in "what is yet to be."
  • Educators have a responsibility to recognize and disrupt privilege and oppression related to race, gender, LGBTQ identities, disability, immigration and linguistic differences, religious diversity, and class.
  • Making positive social change requires taking initiative through collaborative and collegial engagement with other members of the school and local community.

Program Characteristics

  • A common clear vision of good teaching (Agenda for Education in a Democracy) that is apparent in all course work and clinical experiences.
  • Well-defined standards of practice and performance that are used to guide and evaluate coursework and clinical work.
  • A curriculum grounded in substantial knowledge of child development, learning theory, cognition, motivation, and subject matter pedagogy, taught in the context of practice.
  • Extended pre-clinical experiences (at least 50 weeks) that are carefully chosen to support the ideas and practices presented in simultaneous and closely woven course work.
  • Strong relationships, common knowledge, and shared beliefs among school and university faculty.
  • Extensive use of case study methods, teacher research, performance assessments, and portfolio evaluation to ensure that learning is applied to real problems of practice (Darling-Hammond, 2000, Critique of Teacher Education, Journal of Teacher Education, AACTE).
  • Develop the ability of each teacher educator and candidate to see beyond his or her own perspective, to put oneself in the shoes of the learner and to understand the meaning of experiences in terms of learning. This capacity to understand another is not innate; it is developed through study, reflection, guided experience, and inquiry (Darling-Hammond, 2000, Needs of teacher education candidates, Journal of Teacher Education, AACTE).
  • Make social justice ubiquitous in teacher education. A concern for social justice means looking critically at why and how schools are unjust to some students. When social justice is a major lens with which to view the education of all students of all backgrounds, then diversity gains a place of prominence in the teacher education curriculum (Nieto, 2000, Addressing diversity in teacher education programs, Journal of Teacher Education, AACTE).