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Georgia Southern to debut new program in School of Human Ecology in Fall 2020

With support from the College of Education, the Georgia Southern University School of Human Ecology will debut the Birth to Kindergarten Teacher Education Program, which will be housed on the Armstrong Campus in Savannah. The program is the only one of its kind in South Georgia, and classes will begin in the 2020 fall semester.

The program of study leads to a Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Development with a concentration in Birth to Kindergarten Teacher Education. The program offers students the opportunity to apply for a Georgia teaching certificate at the completion of all program requirements. Associate Professor of Child and Family Development Dina Walker-DeVose, Ph.D., said the program will operate with a strong social justice lens.

“We, the program developers and supporters, know how important it is to recognize the role that contextual influences like race, religion, income level, family structure, etc. play in a child’s growth and development,” Walker-DeVose said. “Our program seeks to cultivate cohorts of teachers who are equipped with a sound knowledge base that is grounded in research, a teaching pedagogy that is culturally responsive and flexible to the needs of diverse groups of children, and a spirit of advocacy to support and fight for each and every child, particularly those who are marginalized in our society.”

Classes in the program will be offered in a variety of formats including online and in the evenings to accommodate teachers who already have a two- or four-year degree but want to get training specific to the birth to kindergarten population. Traditional first-year students are also eligible to complete the program.

Associate Dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, John Kraft, Ph.D., said the decision to house the program on the Armstrong Campus was influenced by M. Ann Levett, Ed.D., alumna and superintendent of Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools. Levett is experienced in developing early childhood education centers.

“Dr. Levett’s vision is more than childcare or pre-k in the ordinary sense,” Kraft said. “She wants these children to experience a holistic program that integrates systemic child development and educational programming and intervention. Birth to kindergarten certified teachers are the foundation for her early childhood education centers.”

Walker-Devose said program graduates will have experience working with young students, and they will benefit from a financial standpoint because of the specific training. 

“Our students will enter the classroom feeling well-equipped for the difficult task of meeting children at their current level of mastery and moving them toward identified goals,” she said. “They will be able to do this while recognizing that certain contextual factors such as race and family income have real impacts on student outcomes. Equipped with this knowledge, skill set and a teaching license, they will be compensated at higher rates than those who are not licensed.”

Walker-Devose said Southeast Georgia communities will be one of the biggest benefactors of the program.

“Every community that is touched by the children who will be educated by the amazing teachers we will produce will benefit from the program,” she said. “Research shows a positive return on investment for every dollar that is invested in quality early childhood education. This body of research is another reason that society should be looking for ways to support its youngest learners and fairly compensate those trusted with their care and education.”

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/R2 institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving nearly 26,500 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit


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