Thanks to a newly signed, non-cohort-based 2+2 agreement between COD and the Department of Curriculum and Instruction that launches this fall, participating students will follow a carefully planned schedule of courses that puts them on track to graduate in four years.
Emphases are available in ESL/Bilingual and Special Education, both of which lead to an additional, high-demand endorsement and help to combat a dire shortage of teachers in Illinois.
Students will complete 64 credits in Glen Ellyn throughout fall, spring and summer semesters before coming to DeKalb, where as Huskies they become eligible to apply for the hands-on and résumé-differentiating Educate Local, Educate U.S. and Educate Global programs.
Christy Schweitzer, academic advisor for Elementary Education at NIU, calls the 2+2 “an exciting opportunity” that builds the teacher base and “gives students the assurance that they have both COD and NIU really helping them to work toward their academic goals.”
“It’s going to lead to a greater rate of students success, and that’s our ultimate goal,” Schweitzer says.
“By following a well-scripted academic plan, they’re going to have far more accuracy. They’re going to be able reach their goals sooner,” she adds. “The earlier on that you figure out in college what you’re going to do in life, the better off you’re going be and the fewer dollars you’re going to spend on credits that don’t apply to your plan.”
David Walker, associate dean for Academic Affairs, heralds the 2+2 agreement “a step in the right direction.”
“I really applaud the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, with Sally Blake as chair and Christy as advisor, for believing in this process,” Walker says, “and structuring it in a way that these students can come from COD and graduate in a couple years after being at NIU and become teachers out in the field.”
College of DuPage students who’ve heard about the 2+2 are eager to enroll, says April Zawlocki, chair and associate professor for Education at COD.
NIU is “a big transfer school” for COD students, she says, and the College of Education itself is well-respected. The university also offers benefits of affordable, public tuition and proximity to DuPage County, she adds.
“While we were in negotiations, I had been telling my students that we were working on it, and they were so excited. They’re ready to jump on the opportunity and excited that it’s available,” says Zawlocki, who earned her Ed.D in Curriculum and Instruction from NIU in 2017. “It’s a clear path. We’ve done all of the work to make sure that it’s seamless, and they literally just have to follow the plan.”
Students who sign on to the 2+2 will arrive on campus prior to the fifth semester, which is also the first professional seminar.
“We get our candidates out there sooner in the classroom, and for a larger amount of time as well,” Schweitzer says. “That’s huge. That experience is how you get to build that teacher base, and how you become a good teacher.”
“I really believe that our clinical experiences out in the field are top-notch,” Walker adds. “Jenny Johnson does a wonderful job of putting our students, be they native freshmen students or transfer students, in great diverse settings.”
Elementary Education majors at NIU are prepared in multicultural curriculum and instruction, classroom management, educational technology, special education, assessment, educational philosophy and psychology and more.
The program is accredited nationally by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation and approved by the Illinois State Board of Education.
For more information, contact Schweitzer at [email protected].