Lake-Sumter State College’s planned Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Elementary Education cleared a key hurdle in the path to the program’s launch in August 2024.
At the State Board of Education (SBOE) meeting in Tallahassee yesterday, President Bigard presented the College’s third bachelor’s degree program for approval. The B.S. Elementary Education program will provide aspiring teachers the resources and opportunities to succeed.
“As we continue to expand our program offerings to meet the needs of our local workforce, none seem quite as urgent as creating highly qualified and well-prepared teachers to educate our future generations. Lake-Sumter State College is proud of our plan to offer a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in partnership with our local school districts in a way that accelerates completion and increases skills and confidence,” says Dr. Heather Bigard, President of Lake-Sumter State College. “I am appreciative of the State Board of Education, Commissioner Diaz and the Department of Education, elected officials, and our school district partners for their support and collaboration in building this program to create a teacher certification pathway offered in our local community.”
Lake County Schools Superintendent Diane Kornegay joined President Bigard at the SBOE to speak to the significant impact the College’s BS Elementary Education program will have on the district’s ability to recruit and retain highly qualified teachers.
“This bachelor’s degree program will provide a local avenue for students to have a direct pathway to a career in education without having to leave the county,” said Superintendent Kornegay. “Our collaborative approach with Lake-Sumter State College will increase access and opportunity for students in our high school teaching academies and others to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to excel as classroom teachers.”
The program will include paid practicums embedded throughout the program, a paid internship, and tuition reimbursement opportunities. These experiences will be offered at local schools in partnership with Lake and Sumter County School Districts.
Career pathways will be strengthened to include a direct path from existing high school teaching academies in both districts to earning an associate degree and then enrolling in the B.S. Elementary Education program. Students must first complete, or have already completed, their associate in arts (A.A.) degree and any prerequisite courses prior to enrolling in the B.S. Elementary Education, a 60-credit and two-year program.
“We are excited to partner with Lake-Sumter State College to strengthen our high school teaching academies by providing accessibility to a local program that will offer exceptional educational experiences and high-quality coursework to train our future workforce,” said Richard Shirley, Sumter County Schools Superintendent in his letter of support. “Students will be immersed in our schools throughout the program, allowing them to support the school district while gaining real-world experience to support a seamless transition into full-time teaching.”
The program also provides an opportunity for existing district staff who have a desire to teach, such as paraprofessionals and substitute teachers, to earn a bachelor’s degree and teacher certification.
Recruitment efforts will begin immediately for students looking to enroll in Fall 2024. Interested students should visit enroll.lssc.edu to start the admissions process.
LSSC plans to enroll 120 students in the first year and will continue to expand capacity in support of local school districts who need over 150 new elementary teachers each year.
The B.S. in Elementary Education is pending approval from the College’s regional accreditation agency, SACSCOC. This is a standard part of the process for new academic programs.