BALTIMORE – Notre Dame of Maryland University’s School of Education continues to support the state’s goal to prepare children for kindergarten and beyond with a $932,767 grant to help early childhood educators become certified through alternative pathways.
Funded by the Maryland State Department of Education, NDMU’s Rebuilds program will build on the University’s strengths in teacher preparation to address the state’s strategy of growing a highly effective childcare workforce. School of Education faculty will provide instruction to early childhood educators with accelerated teacher certification, professional development, and apprenticeships – NDMU will become Maryland’s only college or university providing state-approved apprenticeships for educators. The program will support educators at the University’s on-campus preschool, A Child’s Place, and two other childcare centers.
“NDMU’s Rebuilds will provide Maryland’s youngest learners with exceptional educators in childcare and preschool settings to set them up for future success. By giving early childhood educators the opportunity to earn certification beyond the credentialing required for childcare workers, they will be eligible for higher pay and better prepared to provide children with the best education possible,” said Dr. Kathy Doherty, dean of NDMU’s School of Education. “NDMU’s Rebuilds is designed to be replicated in other childcare centers, with the goal of sustaining the program beyond the grant.”
The grant will cover tuition and fees for 15 childcare workers to complete NDMU’s 10-month Accelerated Certification in Teaching program, an alternative pathway for educators to earn conditional certification. The program will also cover the tuition and fees for another 15 early childhood educators to complete one of following four academic certificates: gifted and talented education; dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia; social-emotional learning and flourishing; and teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL).
As part of the program, the School of Education faculty will also develop specialized workshops for early childcare educators in the three childcare facilities. The professional development will focus on best practices in educating young learners with special needs and young children whose first language is not English.
“Special needs look different at the early childhood level than by the time the students get to elementary school,” said Dr. Doherty. “We know from professional publications how critical those first few years of education are, as head start programs have shown over the decades. We have all also heard about the challenges post-pandemic in terms of what was going on in the lives of young children: the increased trauma and the lack of access to resources. All of those things are kind of coming together to have the potential to negatively impact the youngest children.”
In addition, the program provides a pilot apprenticeship program for two educators in NDMU’s A Child’s Place preschool, which is a unique teacher education model in the state. The University will also offer an apprenticeship program through NDMU’s Elevates program for paraprofessionals pursuing teacher certification in special education, funded by another state grant.
NDMU’s Rebuilds also funds a group of undergraduate School of Education students to design early learning activities for young children living in a local homeless shelter, bringing best practices in education to children and families in need.
“Providing high-quality education to children who are most at risk really fits with the mission of Notre Dame because it is transformative education,” said Dr. Doherty. “Our students will have the opportunity to live out Notre Dame’s mission and gain valuable hands-on experience with bringing impactful education to young learners that will make a difference in their lives.”
Established in 1895, Notre Dame of Maryland University (NDMU) is a private, Catholic institution in Baltimore, Maryland, with the mission to educate leaders to transform the world. Notre Dame has been named one of the best "Regional Universities North" by U.S. News & World Report.