RCC, UNCP boost birth-to-kindergarten programs



From left: Roger Brown, Chancellor Allen C. Meadors, President Charles Chrestman and Mark Kinlaw.

Officials for UNC Pembroke and Robeson Community College signed a landmark agreement December 4 that will give a lift to birth-to-kindergarten (BK) education in the region.

The articulation agreement will allow students to earn a two-year associate degree in Early Childhood at RCC, and, with two additional years at UNCP, they may complete a bachelor's degree with teacher certification in BK.

Educators, lawmakers and the legal community have focused on the early education of children as a key to later success, UNCP and RCC educators said.

UNCP's Chancellor Allen C. Meadors and RCC President Charles Chrestman signed the pact Thursday morning in the boardroom of Lumbee Hall on UNCP's campus.

"This agreement is about students, and this represents a good opportunity for our students to continue their higher education," Dr. Chrestman said. "This is a very good day for us, and we are very, very pleased to enter into this agreement. It is something we have wanted for a long time."

Chancellor Meadors agreed, saying the early childhood agreement is the first of more pacts to come.

"This is the beginning of several programs of this nature," Chancellor Meadors said. "In the world today, education is what it is all about, and this is an important mechanism for students to start their education at RCC and then be prepared to walk straight in our doors."

Dr. Warren Baker, Dean of UNCP's School of Education, and Dr. Jane Huffman, Chair of the Education Department, were also on hand for the signing ceremony.

"This opportunity will help meet the many, many needs for early childhood education in the region," Dr. Baker said.

"The important thing about this is, that for students, there will be no delay in the progress of their four-year degree," Dr. Huffman said.

UNCP has approximately 200 students in its Birth-Kindergarten program, and RCC has 317 students in its Early Childhood program said Dr. Mark Kinlaw, RCC's Vice-President for Instruction and Support Services.

Dr. Kinlaw said, "RCC is excited about this articulation between our Early Childhood program and UNCP's BK program. At RCC, we believe that we must get involved in helping to provide more students who pursue teaching as a profession."

"We believe this articulation will encourage students to earn their associate degree and continue their studies at UNCP and eventually enter the teaching field in birth-to-kindergarten," he said. "We believe this agreement is good for both RCC and for UNCP. Most importantly, we believe it will be good for our students."

The BK degree prepares teacher education candidates to work with children birth-five years, with and without disabilities, in a variety of settings including public schools, More at Four programs, Head Start, public and private child-care facilities and agencies serving children birth-to-five years of age, and their families.

Dr. Karen Stanley, Coordinator of the Birth-to-Kindergarten program at UNCP, said graduates of BK programs are in demand.

"There is a great demand for BK licensure now because of the increased emphasis on early intervention and preparing young children for school at the local, state and national level," Dr. Stanley said.

For more information, contact Karen Stanley at 910.521.6528 or karen.stanley@uncp.edu.