What is the difference between the three education programs?
The three programs are designed to provide flexibility for students so that they may complete the requirements that fit their needs: entering the work force upon graduation, transferring to four year programs in education or completing a few courses which help them to move up the career ladder in their present employment.
The Early Childhood Education Program is designed for those individuals who wish to become employed immediately upon graduation. Graduates of this program may become certified by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care as Lead Teachers in programs serving children from birth to age 7 years and in programs which are outside of the public schools. Many graduates work in the public schools as classroom aides or with special needs children.
The Liberal Arts/Education Option Program is designed for those individuals who plan to become preschool and elementary school teachers within the public school system. These graduates must transfer to a four year institution and major in a liberal arts discipline and also complete courses in education including student teaching. This program provides a strong foundation in the education of young children and prepares the student for transfer.
The Licensure Program is designed for those individuals who have been working in the field for many years and who wish to acquire the academic component necessary to become Lead Teacher qualified according to the regulations of the Department of Early Education and Care. Most of the students who enroll in this program have already worked in the field for several years and have the required 27 months of work experience. The department does not place students in sites to receive the required 27 months of experience.
Can I become certified to teach in the public schools through your program?
No. To become qualified to teach in the public schools, all individuals must obtain a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from a four year institution. Once an individual does receive certification to teach, they must then complete a Master’s Degree Program within five years after becoming employed as a teacher. They must also pass the Massachusetts Teacher Examination which includes both a literacy and a field of knowledge component.
If I already have a liberal arts bachelor’s degree, how do I find out if I am certifiable?
Contact the Massachusetts Department of Education to request an application. They will evaluate your application and transcripts and inform you if you are qualified to teach. If you are not qualified, they will tell you what you will need for certification. You may also contact the Education Departments of any four year institution.
If I am enrolled in the Early Childhood Program Education where do I complete my Student Teaching Practica?
The program collaborates with over 35 programs in Franklin and Hampshire Counties. The college staff are responsible for placing you in a program and placements are determined by the goals that the student sets as well what is determined to be an appropriate settings for you by the department.
Which types of programs are available for the students as practicum sites?
The sites include Head Start, public and private kindergartens, nursery schools and full day programs as well as family child care and special needs settings. Children in programs range from infants to seven years old and may include some afterschool programs.
If I already hold a valid certificate to teach in the public schools, may I teach in preschool?
Not necessarily. If your certificate to teach is a Pre K-2 Grade Certificate, you may then be certifiable through the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care. If you hold a certificate for grade 3 or higher, then you would most likely have to take courses related directly to young children.
What is the difference between the Massachusetts Department of Education and the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care?
The Department of Education regulates all public school programs and all teachers must hold a valid teaching certificate from the DOE. The Department of Early Education and Care regulates all private programs serving young children including after school programs that are not within the public schools. It also regulates all family child programs and residential programs within the state of Massachusetts.
Are the regulations the same for both departments?
No. Each have their own set of regulations and although there are similarities, there are also many differences. For more information regarding the specific regulations, contact:
Department of Early Education and Care
413-788-8401 (Springfield regional office)
Massachusetts Department of Education
What do I need to do to open my own child care center or to care for children in my home?
There are different regulations governing each of the above. You should contact the Department of Early Education and Care and ask for the regulations governing each.
Must I be licensed to care for other people’s children in my home?
According to the Department of Early Education and Care anyone who chooses to care for children other than their own children must be licensed by the state. Such a person is referred to as a family child care provider. These providers must enroll in a training program offered by the state before they may begin providing this care.
How many children may I care for in my home at one time? What is the age range of the children for whom I may provide care?
Most family child care providers care for up to six children at one time including their own children if they are under school age. For a provider who has experience, they may care for up to ten children if they have an aide during the time that there are more than six children. Children may be cared for who are usually from one month to seven years old. Some programs also provide before and after school care for children up to age twelve.
Must I be a full time student to enroll in any of GCC’s education programs?
No. Many of our students take one or two courses at a time over a period of many years.
May I receive any of the degrees through the evening division?
It is possible to receive the Liberal Arts/Education Option Associate Degree through the evening division. Many of the liberal arts courses are offered every semester including the January Intersession and the two summer sessions. The Education courses are offered on a rotating schedule in the Fall and Spring semesters. Education courses are not usually offered during the summer sessions. It is not possible to obtain the Early Childhood Education Associate Degree solely through the evening division because students must complete Student Teaching I and II. Students must complete a minimum of 150 hours of actual classroom experience for both courses and currently early childhood programs only operate during the day. There is also a required weekly seminar for each practicum and that is only held during the day. The courses required for the Certificate are all offered through the evening division.
May I receive Prior Learning Experience Credit for working in the field for several years? If so, what is the process?
The department does offer the opportunity to receive credit for Prior Learning Experiences. A student must meet the criteria determined by the department and the college in order to receive such credit and a student should set up a meeting with the coordinator of the program to determine if this is appropriate. Prior Leaning Experience is ONLY awarded for Student Teaching I and NEVER for Student Teaching II.
If I am currently employed in the field, may I do my student teaching at the site?
The department determines the appropriateness of such an arrangement on an individual bases. Any student desiring such an arrangement must meet with the coordinator and/or staff of the Education Department.
May I receive a degree for both Early Childhood Education and Liberal Arts/Education Option?
Yes. Many of the courses in both programs are the same. The major difference is the requirement of Student Teaching for the Early Childhood Education Degree. If a student wishes to earn an additional associate degree they must:
- meet all specific requirements for each degree program;
- complete at least 15 credits of coursework beyond the previous degree awarded; and
- of those 15 additional credits, at least 12 must be completed at GCC.
Will my credits transfer at all four year institutions?
Most liberal arts courses are transferable. However, it is always up to the individual college as to whether or not they will accept all of your credits. Most colleges will not transfer all of your Student Teaching credits, although some colleges will accept one semester. The student should always meet with the transfer officer of the college they are considering to determine if there are specific courses that are needed before transferring.
What job opportunities exist for those with a degree in Early Childhood Education?
There is currently a crisis in the field because there are not enough qualified teachers of young children in the state. Most graduates find jobs immediately upon graduation. Although our program does not train students specifically to become nannies, many of our graduates are hired as nannies.