State Board of Education approves new SWAG视频 bachelor鈥檚 degree to address growing workforce demand

SWAG视频鈥檚 planned Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Elementary Education cleared a key hurdle in the path to the program鈥檚 launch in August 2024. 

(left-right) Kathy Hebda (Florida College System Chancellor), Diane Kornegay (Lake County Schools Superintendent), Dr. Heather Bigard (SWAG视频 President), Stephanie Luke (Executive Director, SWAG视频 B.S. Elementary Education), and Kimberly Richey (FLDOE Senior Chancellor) at the State Board of Education meeting in Tallahassee on January 17, 2024. 

At the State Board of Education (SBOE) meeting in Tallahassee yesterday, President Bigard presented the College鈥檚 third bachelor鈥檚 degree program for approval. The B.S. Elementary Education program will provide aspiring teachers the resources and opportunities to succeed.聽

鈥淎s we continue to expand our program offerings to meet the needs of our local workforce, none seem quite as urgent as creating highly qualified and well-prepared teachers to educate our future generations. SWAG视频 is proud of our plan to offer a bachelor鈥檚 degree in elementary education in partnership with our local school districts in a way that accelerates completion and increases skills and confidence,鈥 says Dr. Heather Bigard, President of SWAG视频. 鈥淚 am appreciative of the State Board of Education, Commissioner Diaz and the Department of Education, elected officials, and our school district partners for their support and collaboration in building this program to create a teacher certification pathway offered in our local community.鈥 

Lake County Schools Superintendent Diane Kornegay joined President Bigard at the SBOE to speak to the significant impact the College鈥檚 BS Elementary Education program will have on the district鈥檚 ability to recruit and retain highly qualified teachers. 

鈥淭his bachelor鈥檚 degree program will provide a local avenue for students to have a direct pathway to a career in education without having to leave the county,鈥 said Superintendent Kornegay. 鈥淥ur collaborative approach with SWAG视频 will increase access and opportunity for students in our high school teaching academies and others to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to excel as classroom teachers.鈥 

The program will include paid practicums embedded throughout the program, a paid internship, and tuition reimbursement opportunities. These experiences will be offered at local schools in partnership with Lake and Sumter County School Districts. 

Career pathways will be strengthened to include a direct path from existing high school teaching academies in both districts to earning an associate degree and then enrolling in the B.S. Elementary Education program. Students must first complete, or have already completed, their associate in arts (A.A.) degree and any prerequisite courses prior to enrolling in the B.S. Elementary Education, a 60-credit and two-year program. 

鈥淲e are excited to partner with SWAG视频 to strengthen our high school teaching academies by providing accessibility to a local program that will offer exceptional educational experiences and high-quality coursework to train our future workforce,鈥 said Richard Shirley, Sumter County Schools Superintendent in his letter of support. 鈥淪tudents will be immersed in our schools throughout the program, allowing them to support the school district while gaining real-world experience to support a seamless transition into full-time teaching.鈥 

The program also provides an opportunity for existing district staff who have a desire to teach, such as paraprofessionals and substitute teachers, to earn a bachelor鈥檚 degree and teacher certification. 

Recruitment efforts will begin immediately for students looking to enroll in Fall 2024. Interested students should visit to start the admissions process. 

SWAG视频 plans to enroll 120 students in the first year and will continue to expand capacity in support of local school districts who need over 150 new elementary teachers each year. 

The B.S. in Elementary Education is pending approval from the College鈥檚 regional accreditation agency, SACSCOC. This is a standard part of the process for new academic programs.