The rise of SSU’s education program

Chalee Hettinger, Staff Reporter

Shawnee State University is home to more than 70 academic programs that offer associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees, and one of the most popular majors is education. Within the last year, Dr. Gay Lynn Shipley has transitioned from professor to assistant dean and director of SSU’s education program. After being part of the program for 24 years, Shipley has come to understand the needs associated with the program and what works and what doesn’t in order to make students successful in their teaching careers. 

In her new position, Shipley’s first goal is to maintain the education program’s accreditation through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). This ensures the legitimacy of the program and its qualifications as an accredited program at SSU. The accreditation is up for evaluation this semester. Shipley’s second goal is to create consistency among all of the education degrees, which include early childhood, middle childhood, adolescent and young adult, special education and visual arts. While each major has a different focus, there still needs to be a basic structure for when and how the material is presented.

Shipley says she always has the best interests of the students at heart and continues to make the program about them and their needs. 

“Every decision I make, the students are at the center of it,” Shipley said. 

When creating class times, Shipley communicates with the arts and sciences departments to figure out the best days and times to place the education classes in order for students to establish a cohesive maximized schedule. She is aware that not every student in the education program lives on or close to campus, so making sure that driving time is limited for students is a huge factor for her. Shipley and the rest of the education program faculty also have success team meetings for struggling students. These meetings are to aid students who may need help in mastering a subject or classroom management. The faculty can provide resources and advice to make a difference in the student’s future career. 

Shipley is aware of the current teacher shortage, but is promoting the career to the best of her ability to change this. SSU is one of the few institutions in Ohio that offers an alternative licensure, which allows anyone with a bachelor’s degree to become an accredited teacher. All one has to do is have their transcript evaluated by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), pass the Ohio Assessments for Educators (OAE) and take some pedagogical classes. The candidate can then be hired by a school district within the licensure area. 

Other changes that are taking place are compensation factors. The education program at SSU is rigorous and requires over 700 field hours, so most students have to cut back on or completely quit their jobs in order to complete this degree. Some of the ways students can receive compensation during the education program is through an ODE grant called Literacy Leaps. The grant allows education majors to receive paid stipends for tutoring in the New Boston School District. Currently, student teachers are allowed to be paid for subbing up to 10 days if they are hired as a substitute teacher in the district where they are placed.

Shipley would like SSU students and people who are thinking about joining the education program to know that education is a great career to think about. The education department at SSU is heading in the right direction and every day in your career is what you make it.