Ave Maria University
The Elementary Education major at AMU is based on our liberal arts core and will give you a deep knowledge of all key academic disciplines. In this major, you’ll examine the field of education, learn current best practices, and exceed state licensing and preparation requirements. At AMU, you’ll get everything you need to reach even the most at-risk students.
Careers: Elementary Education, High School Education, Special Education
If you have a passion for teaching and a love for life, knowledge and truth, you belong in our Elementary Education major! Rooted firmly in Catholic philosophy and theology, you’ll develop the skills, experience and confidence you need to teach in any learning environment. AMU graduates are in such high demand for teaching roles, we simply can’t keep up. We need you!
Fast Fact: 100% of our Elementary Education graduates have received contract offers even before graduation.
The Elementary (K-6th) Education major seeks to further teaching, inquiry, and scholarship in the field of education with a special focus on Catholic and classical education. While examining the field of education using methodologies and practices proper to the discipline, the program will maintain a deliberate and explicit foundation in the philosophical and theological insights of the Catholic tradition, especially its understandings related to the nature and dignity of the human person, the nature of Truth, and the unity of all knowledge as ultimately rooted in the order of creation and God.
In Ave Maria University’s Education major you will experience:
Ave Maria University is located in the Collier County Public school district and works closely with them. The district is currently growing and experiencing a real need for teachers. Our graduates will on average have spent a total of 40 or more full days serving as aids in at least 3 different schools over the period of three semesters, and another full 14 weeks of student teaching in the schools. A number of our faculty are also active K-6 teachers, trainers, and administrators ensuring the most up to date, relevant and real-world formation by those working in the field. Our graduates are ready to move right into a public or private school teaching position.
We are also extremely well connected to various dioceses and Catholic school networks around the nation seeking faithful teachers. Catholic school leaders are especially interested in hiring our uniquely well-formed graduates to enhance the academic quality and authentic Catholic identity of their schools. Ave Maria means excellence!
Because of your liberal arts core preparation, Classical schools, including many of the growing number of classical charter schools, are desperate for our graduates. Many AMU graduates are already active in these schools and their leaders come directly to us seeking to fill the growing need, not just for teachers, but teachers “who get” the classical tradition and are well versed with first-hand experience in a liberal arts environment. Something AMU is uniquely positioned to deliver, even among other faithful Catholic schools.
Alexis Casterline (2019) – An Ohio native, Alexis is a 3rd grade teacher at Rhodora J. Donahue Academy, a Diocese of Venice classical Catholic school, in Ave Maria, FL. She also taught first grade in Immokalee, FL at a school with underprivileged children. According to Alexis, “My favorite memory from the Education Department was the professors’ commitment to helping future AMU educators practice lesson plans and find their niche in the classroom. I enjoyed the community that was formed among my fellow classmates. Together we were able to do experiments, present lesson plans, and share ideas so that we could become the teachers God was calling us to be. I also enjoyed getting to observe a variety of different classrooms throughout my semesters in the education program. It helped me see the vast teaching options that are available in the education field.” Her favorite scripture is “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)
Teresa Henderson (2021) – Teresa is a 3rd grade teacher at Naples Classical Academy, a charter school, in Naples, FL. She was the Valedictorian of her class and a double major in Elementary Education and History. Her favorite memory from the Education Department is the student teaching internship. She states, “I’ll never forget the first grader who complimented me, “’You’re a good helper!’ after a one-on-one session in phonics.” Additional fond memories of AMU include conversations with friends and classmates, outdoor Communion during the spring of 2020. Her favorite scripture is the Prologue of the Gospel of John, 1:1-18, particularly 1:14 “And the Word became flesh, and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory.”
Jill (Riordan) Striz (2015) – Jill is the Assistant Principal at Village Oaks Elementary in Immokalee, FL, where she had previously been a teacher since graduating from AMU. Jill was the 2019 recipient of the prestigious “Golden Apple Award” by the Champions for Learning Education Foundation. This is only awarded to 5 teachers each year in all of Collier County. Jill met her husband while at AMU and is a guest lecturer for the department.
Mary (Eckard) Parilli (2015) – Originally from Iowa, Mary has been teaching for 6 years and is now a teacher in North Carolina. She describes her best memory of her time at AMU as “meeting her husband.” Mary was the captain of the AMU Volleyball team, and during her teaching career in Immokalee, FL Mary was the 2018 “Golden Apple Award” recipient. Mary shares these words of wisdom for future teachers from St. John Bosco: “In every young person, a point of goodness is accessible and it is the primary duty of the educator to discover that sensitive cord of the heart so as to draw out the best in the young person.”
Application to the education major must be formally requested (normally during the sophomore year) and approved by the department chair only after meeting several requirements as outlined below. Reception of the degree in Education also involves meeting numerous additional requirements as outlined below.
Because this program is approved by the State of Florida as an Initial Teacher Preparation Program and results in state license eligibility in Florida, we must adhere to multiple assessment and quality control policies. There are multiple requirements beyond simple course completion which govern this major.
Teacher candidates will be fingerprinted and must undergo and pass background clearance as part of completion of the major. Teacher candidates with a felony conviction may be disqualified from admittance into the teaching major at AMU and possibly disqualified from receiving a Florida teaching license. Any concerns should be brought proactively to the department chair for evaluation before entering the major.
The Major in Elementary Education
Teacher candidates normally formally begin the major in the fall of the junior year after completing prerequisite courses in educational foundations, educational psychology, and a teaching discernment seminar. Teacher candidates must maintain a 2.5 grade point average throughout the program and a minimum grade point average of 2.5 in all education coursework. A grade below a C- in any education course necessitates repeating the course.
Education courses are typically taken in concurrent 12 unit blocks for each of the first three semesters. These courses contain clinical placement-based activities which are completed via a practicum experience. Teacher candidates need to reserve either one full day or two half-days a week during these first three semesters to complete the clinical placement components. Teacher candidates will also need to arrange for their own transportation to the clinical placement sites which are typically 15 to 30 minutes away from campus. A formal application to internship must be completed prior to a final semester of the program. During the internship, teacher candidates will assume the full schedule and duties of a classroom teacher. Due to the demanding time and workload, teacher candidates are expected to limit the academic workload and alter their extracurricular activities so as to be available for a full regular school day during the final internship. Any outside employment during the internship semester is discouraged and must be approved by the department chair.
Benchmarks for Progress for the Education Major Teacher Licensure Program
Each benchmark must be passed before the teacher candidate may proceed on to the next benchmark. Waivers sought for unforeseen circumstances may be brought to the attention of the department Chair. An Ombudsman is available to facilitate and clarify any concerns related to progression through the major up to and including recommendation for licensure. The program does not admit students under the 10% waiver.
Benchmark #1 Preparation and Application into the Education Major Teacher Licensure ProgramStudents interested in pursuing the Education major resulting in a teaching certificate through the State of Florida must first take and pass, with a C- or better three courses:
EDUC 201 Educational Foundations (4 cr.)
EDUC 301 Human Growth and Learning or EDUC 202 Educational Psychology (4 cr.)
EDUC 203 Discernment/Career Topics (0 cr.)
During the EDUC 203 Discernment/Career Topics course, usually taken in the spring of the sophomore year:
Benchmark #2 – Admission to Program
This benchmark is normally met at the end of the spring semester of the sophomore year or over the summer before the junior year.
Each education course has “critical assignments” embedded within the flow of the course assessments. These assignments are designed to challenge the teacher candidate to more deeply and fully understand and apply educational concepts and theories. These assignments are tied to mandated competencies by the state of Florida. Late completion of a critical assignment, while required for graduation, may not affect the teacher candidate’s final grade. The course instructor will assess all critical assignments. Transfer students must complete the critical assignments required by AMU for any education course for which transfer credit is accepted.
Teacher candidates must complete all designated “critical assignments” with a passing grade of 75% or higher. All FEAPS critical assignments must also be met at the “proficient” or “exemplary” levels. Teacher candidates who do not meet these scores will have the opportunity to repeat the assignment and turn it in before the final course exam. Should the assignment not be turned in at the due date for the final course exam, the teacher candidate will receive an “Incomplete” (I) for two weeks after which the grade will revert to the original grade awarded or a zero. Teacher candidates not passing a critical assignment after the two week period will need to go into the remediation process and work with an education professor to re-do the assignment until the assignment is satisfactorily completed. All critical assignments up to the EDUC 400 Internship must be satisfactorily completed before the teacher candidate may proceed into the next benchmark of the teaching internship. All critical assignments are completed and tracked in the TK20 system.
Benchmark #3 – Admission to Internship
This benchmark is met during the final semester of the program.
Benchmark #4 – Graduation
This benchmark is usually met at the conclusion of the spring semester of the senior year.
Will successful completion of this program result in a Florida teaching license
Yes! Ave Maria University’s education major is approved by the state of Florida as an initial teacher preparation program. Graduates qualify for Florida professional certification for grades K-6, including ESOL and Reading Endorsements. We will stamp your transcripts with this certification. You will submit these transcripts to the Florida Department of Education and once confirmed they will issue your license!
What if I want to teach in another state immediately after graduation?
In most cases, reciprocity agreements between the states make getting a license from another state relatively easy after you graduate from AMU’s approved program. We will assist you in this transition, which may sometimes also involve taking the target state’s teachers exams; but once you pass Florida’s exams you will be well prepared, as teacher exams can be quite similar. You should contact your target state’s department of education and let them know that you are graduating a state-approved teacher preparation program in a regionally accredited university and they can talk you through any additional steps, if any to get your license from them.
How do I get certified to teach exceptional (“special needs”) students?
In Florida, as in many states, you can add endorsements to your basic teaching license. Florida lets you take a fill-in-the-bubble exam after graduation to add an Exceptional Student Education endorsement. Our program will partially prepare you for this exam. Additional test preparation resources are readily available online.
What if I want to teach high school?
AMU is great preparation for high school teachers! Our graduates are highly sought after by high schools and many of our graduates get multiple high school job offers before graduation, even without a teaching license. We cannot even come close to meeting the demand high schools have for our graduates.
We recommend that those who want to teach high school major in the discipline they would like to teach with an education minor. The minor will provide most critical coursework necessary for high school teaching and help prepare you for teacher certification exams. Possession of the minor will signal your potential high school employers that you have both deep subject matter competency and basic teaching skills, and assist in your job application.
After you graduate with your discipline-specific BA of BS with a teaching minor, you will pursue what most states call “alternative certification.” You will usually first get a three year temporary teaching certificate and then over the next few years demonstrate successful teaching on the job, take any remaining coursework (may or may not be required depending upon your state and can be done online) and pass any of your target state’s required teacher exams. Every state has its own requirements, please contact the Chair of the Education Department for full details and assistance in planning your post-graduation teacher training.
Education: B.S., Business Management, University of South Florida; M.Ed., Education Leadership, Florida Gulf Coast University
Education: B.S., Elementary Education, Florida Gulf Coast University; M.Ed., Educational Leadership, Florida Gulf Coast University; Ed.D., Teacher Leadership, Concordia University
Education: B.S., Elementary Education, Miami University; M.Ed., Curriculum & Instruction, University of South Florida; Ed.S., Teaching & Teaching Education, University of Florida; Ed.D., Curriculum & Instruction, University of Florida
Office: Canizaro Library 230
Phone: (239) 304-7932
Education: B.S., Elementary Education and Dance, Slippery Rock University; M.Ed., Education Leadership, Florida Gulf Coast University; Ed.D., Education Administration, University of Florida
Office: Canizaro Library 229
Phone: (239) 280-1631
Education: B.A., English, Louisiana State University; M.S., Educational Leadership, Nova Southeastern University; Ed.S., Education Specialist, University of Florida; Ed.S., Education Specialist, University of West Florida
Education: B.S., Physical Education, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; B.S., Elementary Education, Florida Gulf Coast University; M.A., Reading, Florida Gulf Coast University; D.Ed., Curriculum & Teaching, Northcentral University
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