Ridgewater Announces More Education Department Options for Fall 2021
April 8, 2021
HUTCHINSON and WILLMAR, MN – The increased need for quality educators for Minnesota’s youth is a never-ending challenge. To help meet the varied needs, Ridgewater’s Education Department is excited to announce new options with increased flexibility starting Fall 2021.
Students interested in gaining a foundation in education at Ridgewater will now be able to choose from new transfer pathway programs in elementary and special education. A Transfer Pathway is a Minnesota State-approved complete package of transferable credits totaling the first two years of a four-year bachelor’s degree. A new Education Foundation Certificate will also be available.
“Now more than ever, we know how important education is to our community,” explained Missy Majerus, Ridgewater College dean of liberal arts and sciences. “Ridgewater College is excited to be a part of educating our future teachers. By expanding our offerings, we can better serve our students, our community, and the state of Minnesota.”
Ridgewater’s new Education Transfer Pathways are each 60 credits, while the Education Foundations Certificate is 17 credits.
“The Education Foundations Certificate is a stackable certificate,” explained Ridgewater instructor Tiffany Bredeson. “This certificate allows students to look at both elementary education and special education before deciding which pathway is right for them.” Both the Elementary and the Special Education Transfer Pathway AS degrees will give students the flexibility to complete their first two years at Ridgewater College before seamlessly transferring to a participating Minnesota State university.
“We really believe the expanded offerings and flexibility will benefit Ridgewater students who understand the benefits of starting an excellent educational journey at a quality and affordable community college,” said Cindy Salfer, longtime Ridgewater Education instructor. Ridgewater has, in fact, been ranked Minnesota’s #1 Community College for 2020 and 2021 by www.niche.com. Key factors included value, strong academics, and student experiences, among others.
Ridgewater has offered Education programs for more than 40 years, but never with so many options, according to Salfer. For years, it offered the Educational Paraprofessional program in Hutchinson, then expanded with the Early Childhood Education Associate of Science (AS) Degree and certificate, and eventually added a Special Education Certificate.
Recently, Ridgewater discontinued its Education Paraprofessional program and restructured its Early Childhood program to better meet student and industry needs. Salfer and Bredeson expressed excitement about the coming changes. In addition to the new offerings, the current Early Childhood Education program will transition to an Early Childhood Education Transfer Pathway AS Degree. Salfer explained that it’s very similar in coursework and experience to the original program, but has more flexibility to transfer as a complete package of credits to four additional universities besides longtime partner Southwest Minnesota State University – Marshall. Those additional universities include Metropolitan State, Minnesota State – Moorhead, St. Cloud State, and Winona State.
Salfer emphasized that Early Childhood Education students who are not interested in transferring for further education will still have the popular option to enter the workforce with their Associate of Science (AS) degree to become Early Childhood Education teachers in childcare centers or family-based child cares. “Students have even more opportunities in Early Childhood with this transition, she said.
For more information about Ridgewater’s Education offerings, go to www.ridgewater.edu/education. To meet the instructors and hear more, check out the upcoming virtual Education Information Session set for 6:00-7:00 p.m. on Wed., April 21. Register for the event link at www.ridgewater.edu/visit. To learn more about Transfer Pathways, go to www.ridgewater.edu/pathways.