Elizabethtown College first in Pa. to offer theater endorsement program for education majors

Students getting a degree in education at Elizabethtown College can now add a theater program endorsement certificate to their studies, the college announced Wednesday.

And the college is the first in the Pennsylvania where students can do so, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

“Elizabethtown is proud, reflecting our own commitment to arts education, that we could be the first approved program in the state,” education department chair Rachel Finley-Bowman said in an email Wednesday.

The 12-credit program endorsement certificate can be added to a student’s bachelor’s degree studies, according to Casey Smith, Department of Education spokeswoman. The department first approved of endorsements in 2007, she said.

“This certificate documents knowledge in new and emerging areas where formal certification does not exist, and allows teachers to develop skills in dealing with complex classroom settings,” Smith said in an email.

It differs from the 120 plus credit hour instructional certification a student needs to teach K-12 public school students in Pennsylvania, according to Smith.

“This is exciting on many levels. It marks the success of theater education advocates who have long fought for more formal training for teachers,” said Finley-Bowman.

A theater endorsement will give education majors a boost when they look for a job. Running a school’s theater program is often assigned to teachers with no direct theater experience, according to college spokeswoman Elizabeth Harvey.

“It allows someone who has a passion or experience in the dramatic arts to parlay into that tangible credentials for the classroom,” Finley-Bowman said.

To earn the endorsement, students will take courses in acting, directing and producing; play creation; technical theater and design; and theater history.

The program begins this fall with classes currently offered at Elizabethtown College. New classes will be introduced the next two years, Harvey said.

Elizabethtown College does not offer any other endorsement programs. At the undergraduate level, students can major or minor in theater, but only education students are eligible for the theater endorsement, Harvey said.

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