The College of DuPage-based cohort visiting Erikson Institute

Erikson-ISBE collaboration places certified teachers where they’re needed most

Nineteen new Erikson graduates with early childhood teacher certification will soon be staffing preschools in Chicago’s western suburbs, easing a shortage of qualified instructors and serving children in high-need classrooms throughout the region.

These teachers just completed their master’s degree in a special program funded by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Seeking to staff Preschool for All and Prekindergarten At-Risk programs in regions that can’t hire enough certified teachers, the state offered grants to enroll more early childhood professionals in programs leading to Type 04 certification.

Three years ago, Erikson competed for and won an ISBE grant to offer courses at the College of the DuPage, in the heart of the targeted area of need. The program—Erikson’s first off-site degree—enrolled students from DuPage, Kane, and Will counties. They received full tuition scholarships to complete a master’s degree in early childhood education leading to Type 04 certification. In return, they agree to teach in state-funded preschools for five years, ideally in areas with at-risk populations.

The state sought programs that could prepare teachers to excel in classrooms serving bilingual, minority, low-income, and special-needs children. Another priority was funding programs that could recruit, support, and retain teachers who already held a bachelor’s degree but lacked needed certification.

Erikson was a perfect partner for the ISBE outreach, with a ready-made degree program leading to certification and a longstanding focus on the role of culture and community in shaping a child’s development and learning. The Institute’s proposal was one of just three to win ISBE funding—and the only one leading to a master’s degree.

During the course of the program, participating students did practice teaching stints in 15 early childhood programs in 11 communities, from Bensenville to Sandwich, Illinois.

The 19 teachers celebrated completion of their coursework with a culmination ceremony in late April, and will graduate from the program at commencement ceremonies on 16. They will continue to work in preschools throughout collar county region, enhancing the early education experiences of hundreds of children.