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Alaska Bible College adds elementary education degree

Alaska Bible College is now offering a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education.
Alaska Bible College is now offering a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education.(Heather Hintze)
Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 7:30 PM AKDT
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - Students at Alaska Bible College in Palmer now have a new option for a degree.

The school is authorized by the State of Alaska to offer a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education. For adjunct professor Jill Horsman, education is more than just teaching; it’s about building a sense of community through learning.

“Helping the school be a meaningful part of the community environment for the students so that they’re fully supported by the leaders, by family members, by educators,” Horsman said.

She worked for years in rural schools in British Columbia, Canada, and knows how important teachers are to students' success, especially when it comes to reading.

“If the students don’t have a good start in literacy, really a head start, then they are hamstrung the rest of their time,” she said.

The class is small with just three students. On Monday, two had to attend via video conference because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mandy Vidrine, 20, thinks the program will be a great addition to the school.

“I’ve always enjoyed kids. I’ve never really wanted to teach but then I felt like this was something that would probably be a good thing for me in the future,” Vidrine said.

Alaska Bible College is one of the only higher education institutes where students can get an elementary education degree in person in the Anchorage and Mat-Su areas.

The University of Alaska Anchorage’s elementary education program lost its accreditation in 2019, though people can still get an accredited education through the University of Alaska Fairbanks on the UAA campus. Alaska Pacific University offers a graduate certificate option for teachers K-8 and multiple schools offer online programs.

Alaska Bible College President David Ley said students often feel a higher calling to help in underserved areas, like villages off the road system. An elementary education degree gives them more tools to serve the community.

“That’s kind of the vision we’re casting for our students is there’s that need and so we can go into those areas and help people flourish educationally and even spiritually,” Ley said.

Ley said the college is working to get the elementary education degree accredited. Since it’s a new program, that will take time. But he hopes to have the accreditation by the time the first students are ready to graduate.

correction: This story has been edited to clarify that Alaska Bible College is not the only higher education institution where students in the Anchorage and Mat-Su can obtain an elementary education degree, as multiple schools offer online programs and local students can attend in-person UAF classes at UAA.

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