SAU responds to teacher shortage with new MAT track

To help fill the need in Arkansas for the escalating teacher shortage, a new Masters of Arts in Teaching in Elementary Education program was approved by the Southern Arkansas University Board of Trustees at its quarterly meeting held at SAU Tech on Thursday, May 26, 2016.

SAU’s new MAT K-6 program will begin admitting students in fall 2016. It will be added to the current MAT tracks – middle, secondary, or K-12 licensure. The program includes a year of coursework, followed by a year-long paid internship as a fully-employed teacher of record in an Arkansas public school.

“The College of Education surveyed the South Arkansas region and found 62 job openings in K-6 teacher positions, 21 in the El Dorado area alone,” said Dr. Ben Johnson, former SAU interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, at the board meeting. “A job is practically certain for students completing a teacher education degree.”

All of the MAT tracks, including the new K-6 emphasis, are online. The MAT is designed for students with non-education bachelor degrees who wish to gain teacher licensure. Students apply for admission to the MAT programs at several points throughout the year and not just once before the fall semester.

“The SAU Department of Teacher Education is excited to see how this new MAT program grows as we work to help license more elementary teachers in the area,” said Dr. Neelie Dobbins, chair of the teacher education department, who reported around 10 students had applied for the program as of late July. “In south Arkansas we are truly facing a teacher shortage and with our MAT program I am hopeful we can help fill the void more rapidly.’

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