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Elementary Education Frequently Asked Questions


 Why JMU?

At JMU, we have been preparing teachers since 1908! You will acquire skills and knowledge from our amazing faculty members and from countless opportunities to hone what you learn in class during observation, practicum and student-teaching experiences. Our students share that JMU is a place that feels like a second home. With an absolutely beautiful campus no matter what season it is, as well as the surrounding community of Harrisonburg, you will enjoy the opportunity to live and learn at JMU. There are so many resources and organizations to get more involved with, including many education-based club and volunteer opportunities, it’s almost a guarantee you will find something that interests you. Our education classes are taught using a cohort format, so you will get the opportunity to form meaningful connections with your peers and professors. When you come to JMU, you will not only be prepared for your teaching career, but you will make lifelong friends and lasting memories to carry with you throughout your lifetime.

 Why teach elementary?

There are many different types of teachers working with students of all ages and abilities. As an elementary school teacher, you enjoy working with young children aged 4 to 12, for the majority of the day knowing that some children will see their teacher more than they see their parents. Elementary teachers are positive, life-long learners who understand the importance of instilling a love of learning by fostering creativity and understanding across all subjects.

 What courses will I take in Elementary Education?

Elementary coursework is a combination of content, instructional methods, pedagogical skills, and practical experience to ensure each candidate's success as a teacher.

Advising services are very important for Elementary Education majors. All elementary education students have an assigned academic advisor to assist them in developing the program of study that best works for each individual to be successful! You will meet with your advisor to plan what courses to take and anytime you have questions about your program. Students will also be assigned an advisor for their minor.

 I came to JMU with lots of college credit; can I accelerate my education program?

This is a good option to explore with your advisor. You need a minimum of 120 credit hours and a minimum of 60 credits have to be JMU credits. Check with your advisor to make sure that your courses can transfer and which courses must be taken at JMU for credit.

 Can I take courses from a community college or other universities and transfer the credits for GenEd courses?

Yes, you can take credits from a community college and transfer them. However, once you are enrolled at JMU, consult your advisor because you will need pre-approvals before taking them to make sure they are transferable. Find out more here.

 Will I need to take any specialized assessments to be a teacher?

There are both entry assessments and licensure assessments for students interested in a career in teaching. Entry assessments are used to make sure that you have the basic reading, writing, and mathematics skills needed to prepare to be a teacher. Licensure assessments are used to make sure you have mastered the content in all subjects needed to become an elementary school teacher.

 Can I study abroad?

There are many opportunities for elementary education students to study abroad! Whether you participate in a semester abroad – see the Center for Global Engagement to get specific information about the programs and courses associated with them. Another option is to participate in a College of Education International Practica – there is an option just right for you! The College of Education leads summer trips to various countries. Our students can explore the culture and school practices in another country!

 What other electives can I take?

Many students complete courses in a field of interest that can lead to an additional endorsement on their license such as:

  • Gifted and talented education
  • TESOL
  • Algebra 1

Some other courses of interest may include exceptional education, Spanish, or other foreign language, or educational technology. Elective courses can be as seen as a time to broaden your horizons and stretch yourself! Your advisor is a good resource as you ponder your options.

 Where will I go for practicum?

Given the number of students in the elementary program and the other colleges and universities nearby with education programs, the number of PK-6 classrooms in the immediate area is not enough to accommodate all our students. Our students travel to Waynesboro and Staunton City, Augusta County, Page and Shenandoah County, Rockingham County, and Harrisonburg City Schools. You may be as close as 5 minutes or as distant as 45 minutes. The Education Support Center clusters students so they can carpool. The Education Support Center also maintains a database of where students have been placed. This way they can monitor the grade levels and travel distances you experience.

 What if I don’t have a car?

The Education Support Center makes all the practica and student teaching placements. Each semester, you will be asked to complete a form that identifies special parameters regarding your courses, work commitments, and car availability. Then the ESC uses that information to cluster students in schools so that all constraints are met. If you don’t have a car, you’ll be in the same school as someone who does. Remember, though, to be a good carpooler. Think about the expense your peer incurs while driving you to and from school. Remember, too, that everyone is required to be at school on time.

 Can I substitute teach while in the program?

Substitute teaching is a great way to get experience in schools! Also consider one of the many education based clubs and organizations, as well as volunteer opportunities, that give you opportunities to work with children while pursuing your degree.

 I’m from out of state; does my Virginia license work in my state?

Each state is different. Consult https://certificationmap.com/ and/or contact the Education Support Center if you have questions. Click here for more information.

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