Teaching children is a noble calling. Elementary educators make a significant, positive, and lasting impact on the lives of others by helping them start out with the best possible foundation.
Before you can become an elementary teacher in Maine, however, you’ll need to receive state certification. You can apply for this certification once you have earned a bachelor’s degree in a state-approved elementary education program.
This article will give you a convenient list of all the elementary education bachelor’s degree programs in the state, including a brief description of each program.
What to consider when selecting an elementary education program in Maine
Before exploring specific programs, it is helpful to have a rough idea of what you are looking for. Each program will have its unique characteristics; you’ll want to discover the program that is best for you given your own interests and career goals.
As you investigate each program, here are some questions you can ask.
What is the culture of the department? Just like people, departments tend to have a personality—including different emphases and interests.
One department, for instance, might have a strong focus on social justice issues. Another program may prioritize the use of emerging technologies in the classroom.
How can you tell? There are two important places to look for clues: the program description and course offerings in the catalog. You can also learn a lot by talking with faculty and current students. Ask them questions like, “What are the issues that are most important to those who teach and study in this program?”
What practical experiences are available? All of the programs listed below will have student teaching experiences since those are required of any program recognized by the state.
However, the amount of time spent in actual classrooms will be different from one program to the next. There can also be variations in how practicums, internships, and other hands-on opportunities work and where they take place.
What will my degree cost? This is an important practical consideration that can impact your quality of life after graduation. Those going into teaching don’t generally expect to make large salaries, so you’ll want to think carefully about taking on debt that will saddle you with monthly payments later.
Colleges for Teaching Elementary School in Maine
As we mentioned above, all state-approved elementary education programs must meet certain criteria that cover both the courses taught and student teaching experiences.
For that reason, there are more similarities between programs in this discipline than there would be in many other fields. This is reflected in program descriptions when you visit their websites. They will all, for instance, state that they combine instruction in pedagogical theory with hands-on experience.
Still, there are many differences in things like areas of emphasis, the amount of student teaching experience offered, and special campus resources. In the program descriptions below, we try to highlight anything distinctive about each program and avoid repeating the same information for each one.
One other note about the list: We do not include community college programs here since you need at least a bachelor’s degree to apply for state certification. All programs listed below offer a BA or BS.
College of the Atlantic
- Location: Bar Harbor
- Description: The most distinctive feature of the College of the Atlantic is that all students earn the same undergraduate degree: a BA in Human Ecology. It is envisioned as a highly interdisciplinary degree customized by each student. Though their program is state approved for elementary education, most students in the program are pursuing educational interests outside the traditional classroom.
- Location: Bangor
- Description: This program has a strong focus on liberal arts as a foundation for effective teachers. They also emphasize classroom experience, with students beginning with classroom observation in the second or third semester of the program.
Saint Joseph’s College of Maine
- Location: Standish
- Description: St. Joseph’s College of Maine is a Catholic, liberal arts college that tries to foster an ongoing dialogue between faith and reason. In their elementary education program, students will have experience working with teachers and children in the classroom at some point in each of their four years of study.
- Location: Waterville
- Description: The Thomas College program has a strong emphasis on innovation and the importance of real-world application. Preservice teachers graduating from Thomas College earn over 920 hours of classroom experience while seeking their degree and take courses in integrated curriculum and trauma-informed education along with state-required coursework. They offer an accelerated 3-year option and one-year master’s in education so you can earn your BS and MS in four years.
University of Maine
- Location: Orono
- Description: Students build their education courses on a strong liberal arts curriculum. Qualifying students have the option of joining the Honors College, which offers more rigorous work in smaller classes and the chance to undertake research.
University of Maine at Augusta
- Location: Augusta
- Description: This program offers a range of study options, making it especially flexible. Students can complete coursework online, on campus, and/or at one of the ten other campuses or centers in the UMA system.
University of Maine at Farmington
- Location: Farmington
- Description: Founded as a teachers’ college in 1864, the University of Maine at Farmington has a strong tradition of preparing teachers. In addition to the core courses, students select a 24-credit minor in one of 6 areas. The campus houses the UMF Center for Assistive Technology, which works to promote the use of technologies designed to help those with disabilities get the most out of their educational opportunities.
University of Maine at Presque Isle
- Location: Presque Isle
- Description: This program aims to develop reflectiveness as a core attribute of effective teachers. Students in elementary education choose from seven concentrations, including early childhood education, mathematics, science, and special education.
University of New England
- Location: Biddeford, Portland
- Description: Their elementary education major is only 48 credits, which creates room for other opportunities like a double major or study abroad semester. Qualified students can also participate in the Honors Program, giving them the opportunity to pursue significant independent work under the supervision of a faculty member.
University of Southern Maine
- Location: Portland, Gorham
- Description: The University of Southern Maine’s senior year student teaching internship lasts both semesters. (One semester is typical.) During that year, students are gathered into learning community cohorts of around 20 students who work in the same school district and take courses together. Students select a concentration from six areas including English, history, liberal studies, mathematics, and sciences.
We’re excited that you are considering a career in elementary education. We hope this article has given you some resources to help you select the college where you might like to build your skills, passion, and experience as a teacher.
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