Early Childhood Teacher Certification in Maine

All About Early Childhood Education in Maine

A career in early childhood education can be a wonderful way to enjoy Maine, as well as to bring joy to your life and to the lives of young children. All-day kindergarten and interest in early childhood programs is increasing. Maine’s Department of Education encourages these programs, though the decision of setting them up or not is left to local school districts.

* Rasmussen College, School of Education offers Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs at two levels to meet the needs of early childhood educators at any stage of their career: A 9-month ECE Certificate for those just getting started, or a Bachelor’s in ECE Leadership for those ready to advance their careers by moving into administration.

* The Online Master's in Early Childhood Education from Capella's NCATE-accredited professional education unit will prepare you to effectively engage young students in the pre-K setting. With the option to focus on special education or classroom supervision, Capella's Master’s in Early Childhood Education is designed with the modern pre-K classroom in mind.

* The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program at the USC Rossier School of Education is designed for aspiring K-12 teachers looking to gain the skills and knowledge needed to become great teachers and help all students succeed. This teacher preparation program also prepares candidates to be recommended for a teaching credential.

Maine began a two-year kindergarten program in 1983 to support preschool education to the public. As of 2007, “four year old” programs (state-funded public preschool programs) were being encouraged by the state government.

To receive full subsidies, districts must provide 10 hours per week of preschool programming. In 2011-2012, forty-seven percent of Maine’s school chose to provide a public preschool program. Many of these programs took place in local public schools, but others partnered with Head Start agencies or community-based programs. No matter where the programs are held, all lead teachers must have a bachelor’s degree and be certified with an early childhood endorsement by the Department of Education, known as endorsement 081.

Also in 2011-2012, enrollment in Maine’s public preschool program increased. Maine’s early education program ranks 17th in the country, though the budget for 2013 was actually cut by $2 million. Improving the quality of these programs is taking time. Currently, in 2013, Maine meets six of the 10 quality benchmarks, up from only three, ten years ago. The National Institute for Early Childhood Education states that in 2000, 46 of Maine’s schools had preschool programs serving 860 children. There are now nearly twice as many students enrolled in these preschool programs.

According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Maine had 1,240 preschool teachers with an average salary of $31,730.

How to Become an Early Childhood Educator in Maine

Becoming an early childhood educator in Maine requires a bachelor’s degree, but most programs do not offer a bachelor’s in early childhood education. Those who seek to become an early childhood educator may have take a roundabout route.

A candidate needs a degree in child development, elementary education, or a non-education bachelor’s degree with a concentration in arts and humanities. Graduates may proceed to apply for certification through Maine’s Department of Education.

Getting an Early Childhood Degree

unlike most programs in the state, offers a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. Students can choose between two certification tracks in this major: either birth through five years, or K through grade three. UMF’s early childhood program is based on the National Association for the Education of Young Children standards, and is accredited by NCATE. Candidates work closely with preschools, pre-kindergarten programs, and community programs.

offers a bachelor’s degree in child development and family relations that prepares students for teaching K through grade three. Working with children from birth through five years requires endorsement 081, which is obtained through Maine’s Department of Education.

The most common way in Maine to become an early childhood teacher is to attend a community college such as Eastern Maine Community College, the largest early childhood education school

in Maine. After receiving an associate degree from EMCC, students may go on to attend a four-year school to get a bachelor’s degree in a pre-K through three program. EMCC also has an early childhood certificate program that prepares individuals for entry-level positions in early childhood centers.

Teacher Certification in Maine

After finishing a bachelor’s degree, holders of a K-through-three or K-through-eight certificate who wish to to work with children from birth through age five have to obtain endorsement 081 and pass the Praxis I and Praxis II tests.

Those who work with young children in a school setting also must be fingerprinted. An individual may receive evaluation for a certificate beforehand, but the certification must wait until the fingerprints have been taken.

Certificate renewal is a requirement in Maine. The certificate office will automatically mail renewal applications to Maine teachers. Every five years, teachers must take six renewal credits and file to renew their certificates.

It is relatively easy to teach in Maine with an out-of-state certificate. Just submit a signed and completed application, transcripts, test scores, a copy of the existing certificate, and personal information.

Where to Look for a Job in Early Childhood Education

Once a candidate has finished a bachelor’s degree and obtained an early childhood certificate, the job search can begin. Many public school programs in Maine partner with Head Start. Head Start normally works with children ages three through five, while Early Head Start is geared to children from birth through age three. American Indian and Alaskan Native Head Start works with children from birth through age five, and Home Start is offered in family child-care homes.

Look into the child-care divisions of YMCAs. The local YMCA in Bangor, for example, employs a lead teacher who directs a class of children aged 18 months through five years. This position is full-time and offers a competitive salary and benefits.

Many public schools in Maine also have early childhood positions. For example, Lewiston Public Schools have recently had openings for teachers of pre-K through two years. The positions require bachelor’s degrees and valid early childhood teaching certificates with endorsement 081. Be sure to check out the directory of Maine’s Public Schools hosted by Maine’s Department of Education.

Private preschools such as the First Step Learning Center should be considered, as well. An example at First Step is a preschool teacher in the toddler room. This is an all-day job, consisting of caring for toddlers and providing stimulating experiences and activities for them to enjoy. This position, again, offers a competitive salary and benefits, after a probationary period.

Professional Organizations for Teachers in Maine

Maine Education Association, an advocate for Maine’s teachers and students, is an affiliate of the National Education Association. The purpose of MEA is to protect the rights of educators and give them guidance to advance their interests.

Maine Association for the Education of Young Children is the Maine affiliate of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, whose aim is to help young children in Maine and their families gain access to educational services and resources.

The Association of American Educators,founded in 1994, has the goal of focusing on student achievement, not politics. AAE has members in all 50 states and aims to create greater professionalism in classrooms.

Education Blogs from Maine

First in Maine is maintained by a fifth-grade teacher who has been teaching for seven years: three in middle school, one in kindergarten, one in first grade, and two as a literary specialist. She shares her activities with her classes, lists books she enjoys reading with her students, and links to other early childhood blogs.

At Scholastic, a popular teacher’s site and book order site, is a page listing the top 20 teacher blogs. Among them are blogs for activities, resources, best practices, news from teachers, art projects, and more. Teachers will find a cornucopia of helpful information here.

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