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Welcome to the Graduate Program
in Elementary Education at EIU

Dr Jeanne Okrasinski

Dr Jeanne Okrasinski

Office: 2205 - Buzzard Hall
Phone: 217-581-7885
Fax: 217-581-6300
Email: jeokrasinski@eiu.edu
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We are delighted that you are considering pursuing graduate study in early childhood, elementary, and/or middle level education at Eastern Illinois University. According to the Occupational Employment and Wages Chart Book, elementary and middle school teachers were among the largest occupations in the public sector as of May 2010 and Illinois was one of the top five states with the highest employment levels in these occupations. The ISBE Educator Supply and Demand in Illinois - 2011 Annual Report (September 2011) estimated that Illinois would need nearly 36,000 regular education teachers through 2014. In terms of the largest number needed,self-contained elementary teachers were identified as one of the areas of greatest need and Title I reading teachers were cited as one of the greatest needs in terms of the percent of the 2010 workforce.

The Graduate Program in Elementary Education seeks to address these needs by providing quality teaching and promoting excellence in research/creative activity in order for graduate students to exemplify best teaching practices for children from birth through age fourteen. The program of studies for candidates requires minimally 35-36 semester hours of course work and a research component (i.e., action research or thesis). Recent major achievements include receiving accreditation of the professional education program at the advanced level by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) in Fall 2010 and being honored with the 2012 Provost's Award for Achievement in Academic Assessment.

The department has also developed a Graduate Certificate in Reading Instruction designed for educators (holding valid teaching certificates preschool to grade 12) who wish to advance their knowledge and performance in teaching reading in order to serve as Title I Reading teachers or Reading/Literacy Coaches. There is a demand for individual states to ensure that "highly qualified" teachers are hired to provide instruction in critical areas and districts have begun to require advanced work in the area of reading. The courses required within the M.S. Ed. in Elementary Education Reading Area of Emphasis and the Certificate in Reading Instruction have been aligned with the Reading Teacher Standards as outlined by the State of Illinois and may be applied toward the requirements for the Reading Teacher Endorsement in Illinois.

The Graduate Program provides a strong integrative learning experience (e.g., through the theory-to-practice assignments; the culminating action research/thesis projects which assist teachers in making data-driven decisions to improve classroom practice; and the field experience options at the graduate level such as the reading practicum where majors individually assess/tutor area children in literacy). Establishing high standards for student performance has resulted in two recent graduates of the program being recognized as the Thesis Award Winner - Award of Excellence for the College of Education and Professional Studies (2011) and the King-Mertz Research/Creative Activity Award Winner -Award of Excellence for the College of Education and Professional Studies (2011). University resources (Williams Travel Grants) and departmental funds have been used to support faculty-student collaboration on research projects and presentation of the findings at professional conferences (e.g., annual meetings of the International Reading Association).

Although the majority of the students enrolled in the program are full-time practicing teachers who have chosen to pursue a master's degree as part-time graduate students, we do offer graduate assistantships to qualified candidates who wish to pursue full-time graduate study. Our off-campus graduate cohorts maintain the same high standards as the on-campus program and provide options for graduate study to teachers in satellite locations. In addition, individuals seeking an initial teaching license can pursue Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Certification through one of EIU's state approved certification programs. I encourage you to explore our web site and please do not hesitate to contact me (jeokrasinski@eiu.edu) if you have any questions or want to learn more about the opportunities for graduate study in early childhood, elementary or middle level education at Eastern Illinois University.


Dr. Jeanne Okrasinski
Graduate Coordinator