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MTSU-Motlow agreement helps childhood education majors get four-year degrees

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An agreement signed Tuesday between Middle Tennessee State University and Motlow College will help community college students majoring in early childhood education turn their associate degrees into bachelor’s degrees at MTSU’s Murfreesboro campus.
The agreement eases the transfer of Motlow students into the Bachelor of Science degree program in early childhood education at MTSU. The arrangement provides specific advisement for Motlow transfer students and encourages academic and administrative coordination between the institutions.
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and Motlow President MaryLou Apple formally signed the agreement Tuesday inside MTSU’s Student Union as faculty and staff from both institutions looked on.
“We’re going to break down all of the barriers,” McPhee said. He added that such an agreement helps “move the bureaucracy” so that students can achieve their educational goals and noted that MTSU and Motlow had previously signed agreements regarding dual admission and dual enrollment to complement that effort.
The next step is to track such partnerships for effectiveness, not just regarding increased enrollment of transfer students, but in more graduates entering the teaching profession and staying there for the long term. The two institutions are already discussing similar agreements for other programs such as computer information systems and nursing.
Apple praised MTSU faculty and staff as “successful champions” of students, and applauded the latest collaboration as a first step in working together to provide the best educational opportunities for students and to keep the brightest students in the state.
“I truly believe that you provide the best education for our students to obtain,” she said. “It’s another chance for us to get in front of parents and students to say ‘you can have a great opportunity here.’”
In addition to its main campus in Moore County, Motlow College operates branch campuses in Smyrna, Fayetteville and McMinnville. MTSU also partners with Motlow in operating the Middle Tennessee Education Center in Shelbyville.
The latest agreement outlines which Motlow courses are transferrable to MTSU and lists the upper-level MTSU courses a transfer student must take to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Transfer students also must meet normal MTSU admissions requirements.
“We have many students who transfer from Motlow College to MTSU to continue their work in early childhood education,” said Dr. Robyn Ridgely, program coordinator for MTSU’s Early Childhood Education Program in the Department of Elementary and Special Education.
“Many of the students, who often work in community child care programs, began receiving training in early childhood education through the Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance and then seamlessly transitioned to Motlow to earn their associate degree.
“This agreement will allow those same students to continue their career pathway by transitioning to a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education degree program. We are excited that this agreement will support those and many other students as they seek to learn more about how to support the learning (process) of young children.”
Representatives from each institution will review the agreement and revise by mutual consent.
Charle Coffey, director of Motlow’s Department of Education, said the partnership supports Motlow’s commitment “to providing seamless pathways for our students to continue their educational pursuits.”
“I applaud MTSU for their work on making this opportunity available to our graduates,” Coffey added. “Our combined efforts benefit our students and our communities and I am pleased to be a part of this effort.”
Dr. Bonny Ball Copenhaver, provost at Motlow, said such agreements give Motlow students valuable options as they build a foundation for their careers.
“While our program can put a graduate to work immediately, this articulation allows students to continue their education,” Copenhaver said.

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Early childhood education, Education, Motlow, MTSU
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