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Early Childhood Education Prepares Enhanced Curriculum

February 18, 2014

Changes being made to the Early Childhood Education curriculum were presented to the Board of Trustees of Iowa Lakes at their meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Executive Dean of the Emmetsburg Campus, Tom Brotherton, introduced Professor Jamie Christensen and Associate Professor Melissa Regelstad.

Both instructors shared information – and pictures – on learning opportunities in which students have been participating.

Students also spoke at the meeting. Sara Foley of West Bend, Jessica Mueller of Algona and Crystal Doppler of Spencer talked about their experiences and what brought them to Iowa Lakes. 

Foley is a current student and shared how students worked with Emmetsburg Preschool teachers in helping to develop a Family Night for preschool families and spoke about taking an active role on advocacy within the early childhood field. She expects to transfer with a major in Social Work.

Mueller talked about the field experiences in which she’s been involved as well as service learning opportunities in which she has been involved. Like Foley, Mueller hopes to eventually pursue a bachelor’s degree with a major in Early Childhood Education.

Doppler graduated from Iowa Lakes in December. She was able to participate in the NAEYC – (National Association for the Education of Young Children) – in Washington D.C. and talked about her professional development experience. Doppler said the support she received from the instructors – as well as fellow students – throughout her learning experience was very helpful. She said her field experiences helped to convince her that she wanted to pursue a career with preschool students.

The Early Childhood Education program offers a basic understanding of child development, child health, safety and nutrition. In addition, classes cover curriculum planning as well as broaden a student’s awareness of current issues in the profession. Students have the opportunity to transfer to a university or seek employment in the Early Childhood field.

Also during the meeting, modifications to degree pathways were explained to the Trustees by Mark Gruwell, Executive Dean of Instruction and Development.

“Last year, the Iowa Department of Education issued an administrative regulation to phase out Associate in Science Career Option degree pathways during the next few years,” Gruwell explained. The regulation especially impacts colleges, such as Iowa Lakes and DMACC, which have a large number of Career Option programs.

“Although some other colleges are waiting to make changes next year, we started early in order to make the transition from a Career Option degree pathway to other degree pathways as seamless as possible,” Gruwell added, emphasizing the importance of minimizing inconveniences to not only students, but also to faculty and staff.

“In discussing this matter with faculty members, campus leaders, and advisory committees, we’re making a change to our existing Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree pathway, and this modification will allow our Career Option programs to become AAS programs with minimal alterations,” Gruwell said.

“Most importantly, though, these changes will preserve the academic quality of our two-year programming.”

Gruwell thanked the campus deans, faculty members, and the staff, especially Barbara Grandstaff and Kendra Hough, for leading this process.

“Although the transformation presented a number of challenges, the fact that we were able to plan and implement these degree pathway conversions within nine months of the Iowa Department of Education’s administrative rule change evidences the commitment of our employees and the agility of community colleges.”

In other action at the meeting, an audit of finances at Iowa Lakes Community College was reviewed by the Trustees at their meeting Tuesday afternoon. Vice President of Administration, Bob L’Heureux introduced Ebony Rahe of Williams and Company. She told the Trustees that the report presents ‘fairly in all material respects, the financial condition of Iowa Lakes Community College.’ Following the presentation, the Trustees voted to accept the report.

In other news, Jolene Rogers, Executive Director of Community and Business Relations, received approval from the Trustees to move forward with a special election on Sept. 9 to ask area voters to renew the college’s six-cent Instructional Equipment Levy which is set to expire in 2015.

Also during the meeting, the Trustees shared reports on national, state and local matters which affect community colleges. The next meeting of the Iowa Lakes Board of Trustees is scheduled for Tuesday, March 18, on the Estherville campus of Iowa Lakes.

Students in the Early Childhood program who spoke with the Trustees of Iowa Lakes Community College included (from left) Crystal Doppler, Spencer; Sara Foley, West Bend; and Jessica Mueller, Algona.

Students in the Early Childhood program who spoke with the Trustees of Iowa Lakes Community College included (from left) Crystal Doppler, Spencer; Sara Foley, West Bend; and Jessica Mueller, Algona.

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