The Department of Early Childhood Education (ECED) at the University of West Georgia has won the 2018 Regents’ Teaching Excellence Award for Departments and Programs. The University System of Georgia Board of Regents award recognizes excellence in a department that displays strong commitment to teaching and student success.
“We are extremely honored to receive the Regents’ Teaching Excellence Award for a Department or Program on behalf of the University of West Georgia,” said Dr. Jill Drake, department chair. “Receiving this recognition affirms to our students and faculty that our educator preparation programs are among the best in the state and that our commitment to innovation and excellence in teaching is worthwhile.”
Situated in UWG’s College of Education (COE), this program competed with programs from every discipline and institutions from across the state, including the University of Georgia and Georgia Institute of Technology. The distinction is highly coveted throughout the University System of Georgia (USG).
The infusion of high-impact teaching and learning practices in the curriculum — including service-learning projects, collaborative assignments, global learning opportunities and technology innovations — was what most impressed the committee, according to the official award letter.
“Evidence that their methods work so well on such a large scale is a testament to the innovation of the program,” read the letter.
The program boasts enrolling the second largest number of teacher candidates in the state and recently increased its graduation rate from 80 percent to 88 percent. Additionally, ECED students exceed the state of Georgia’s EdTPA pass rates, an assessment used by programs across the country to measure their skills and knowledge needed in the classroom.
Another point of pride cited by the committee was the selection of a COE graduate for the Teacher of the Year award in 10 of 19 schools in their service area. One alumnus, Dr. Steve Barker of Coweta County School System, was named Georgia’s 2018 Superintendent of the Year.
Other prominent features of the program include an onsite nationally accredited pre-kindergarten program and a Comprehensive Community Clinic, which offers services in mathematics and literacy tutoring (grades K-5), speech therapy and counseling. According to Drake, there are no other universities in Georgia that offer this spectrum of services within one college.
ECED students can choose between two paths of certification (dual certification in early childhood education and special education or early childhood education). As mentioned by Drake, only 12 of the 35 post-secondary institutions in Georgia offer both. Within those tracks, students gain more than 1,100 hours of clinical experience in the K-5 classroom.
“The College of Education has made a real investment in technology integration, meaningful partnerships and high-impact practices,” said COE Dean Dr. Dianne Hoff. “Receiving this award is truly an honor, and we remain committed to providing the very best teachers for Georgia schools.”
UWG serves more than 13,500 students from across Georgia, 37 other states and 72 countries. Perennially ranked by U.S. News and World Report as a top national university, West Georgia offers 88 fields of study, including business, nursing, education, STEM, social sciences and the arts. It generates a regional economic impact of nearly $520 million and provides a safe, quality and affordable college experience that transforms lives.