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Published 12/2/2003
New Educational Paraprofessional Major Offered at Owens Community College

Owens Community College is responding to the growing need for paraprofessionals by expanding its Early Childhood Education Program to include a new Educational Paraprofessional Major. The College recently received approval by the Ohio Board of Regents to begin offering classes within the new major for Spring Semester 2004.

Owens’ new Educational Paraprofessional Major was created in conjunction with the No Child Left Behind Act signed by President George W. Bush in 2002. The federal legislation was enacted to enhance the educational training and skills of current or future paraprofessionals. As part of the initiative, new academic requirements are being implemented, ensuring all paraprofessionals are prepared to assist students in achieving the highest standards of academic performance.

In order to meet the new requirements, a paraprofessional must complete at least two years of higher education, obtain an associate's degree or pass an examination demonstrating proficiency in basic education skills. All educational paraprofessionals hired after January 2002 must meet this mandate. Those hired prior to January 2002 must adhere to one of the requirements by January 2006.

"Paraprofessionals play a vital role in the education and development of our children," said Dr. Paul Unger, Provost of Owens Community College. "Owens’ new paraprofessional degree will provide individuals with the necessary education to offer much needed instructional support for teachers within the K-12 school system."

Owens Community College is one of 21 higher educational institutions in Ohio to offer the educational paraprofessional curriculum as a result of President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act. In addition, the College’s Early Childhood Education Program received a $10,000 developmental grant from the Ohio Department of Education to assist in the creation of course content for the new paraprofessional major.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment opportunities for paraprofessionals are expected to grow faster on average than all other occupations through 2010, stated Deb Ciecka, Owens Chair of Early Childhood Education Technology. "The significant increase within the paraprofessional career can be attributed to a heightened focus on meeting the individual learning needs of students," she said.

Ciecka added, "What makes this program unique is that graduates have the opportunity to take the next step in their educational careers and become a licensed teachers."

Following completion of the new Early Childhood Education Program major, Owens graduates will be able to transfer credits earned to a four-year college or university in pursuit of their teaching licensure certificate.

"The College’s Educational Paraprofessional Major is designed to open a career pathway, encouraging individuals to expand upon their college education and obtain a bachelor’s degree in teaching," Ciecka said.

Owens’ new associate degree major requires approximately 66 credit hours of coursework, which includes Introduction to Education, Child Development, Emergent Literacy, Positive Guidance, Educational Psychology and Cooperative Education for the Paraprofessional, among other courses. Individuals in this career field can be found applying their paraprofessional skills as assistant counselors, bilingual aides, computer aides, financial aid specialists, media center aides, tutors or teaching assistants.

Individuals who receive a paraprofessional degree will become eligible to apply for the Educational Paraprofessional license granted by the Ohio Department of Education. For additional information about Owens’ Educational Paraprofessional Major, call (567) 661-7280 or 1-800-GO-OWENS, Ext. 7280.

Owens Community College is the fastest-growing higher educational institution in Ohio with 26 consecutive semesters of enrollment increases. On the Toledo-area and Findlay-area campuses, Owens serves more than 40,000 credit and non-credit students making it the number one choice for new college students. Owens is committed to providing small classes, personal attention and unmatched affordability. Owens Community College offers over 130 program areas in Agriculture, Business, Fine and Performing Arts, Health, Public Service, Skilled Trades, Industrial and Engineering Technologies. Owens students also can earn the first two years of a bachelor's degree with a smooth transfer to any area four-year college or university.


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