Wilson to offer first master's degree program

May 09, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Wilson College officials announced Monday the school will offer the first graduate degree program in its 137-year history, a 10-course master of arts in teaching focused on honing the classroom skills of elementary school teachers.

"We are not attempting to turn out reading specialists or school administrators," said Betty L. Bitner, a professor of education and the program director of the program. The program for teachers with instructional level one certification is designed to assist them in becoming "a teacher of teachers. A leader of teachers," she said.

In April, the college received approval for the master's degree program from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the higher education regional accrediting body, according to a college press release. President Lorna Duphiney Edmundson said the program has been in the planning for about five years.

"Each of the seven school superintendents in the region commented on the high quality of our Teaching Internship Program and, in the next breath, urged Wilson to consider offering programs in graduate education to meet the needs of the thousands of teachers in the region," Edmundson said in the release. "So we knew there was a ready market.


Bitner said the program will be offered in the two summer terms beginning June 13 and in the spring and fall semesters, as well. Those teachers who earn the degree will be eligible for the instructional level two certification, she said.

"I have been a proponent of this degree program for many years," said Chambersburg Area School District Superintendent Edwin Sponseller. "To this point, there's never been a local program that encourages excellence in teaching."

Most graduate courses are "content-laden" and aimed at specific areas such as special education, reading or administration, Sponseller said. The master of arts in teaching program will "help you become a better teacher in the classroom," he said.

"The elementary teachers are the backbone of our system," Sponseller said.

"We're under requirements that we've never had before as far as student achievement is concerned," Sponseller said, citing federal No Child Left Behind requirements. "Excellence has never been more important than it is now."

Some of the 10 courses include Contemporary Issues in Education, Multicultural Education in a Pluralistic Society, Ethical and Legal Issues in Education, Technology in Today's Classroom and Educational Research and Design.

Entry-level courses will be offered each semester so a student can enter the program at any time during the year, according to the press release.

Bitner came to Wilson College from Thiel College in Greenville, Pa., where she was a professor of education. She is originally from Waynesboro, Pa.

"Some of my best teachers were graduates of Wilson," Bitner said.

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