The elementary education program at Florida College prepares future teachers to build relationships with and have a positive impact on their students. Jonathan Barlar, an elementary education professor, teaches at Florida College because the focus is not just on skill building but also developing role models for the school system.

“Florida College students are developing as strong Christian role models as well as strong teachers,” Barlar said. “Employers are looking for teachers who truly care about students and want to do their best in all they do. They want teachers whose focus is on making a difference for others. This fits perfectly with Florida College’s goal to develop students emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically.”

Students at Florida College are instructed by professors who keep the mission of the school as the focus of their teaching. The small class sizes allow for professors and students to benefit from one-on-one interaction and a close-knit support system. The program is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges (SACS) and the Florida Department of Education. Graduates will leave fully qualified and certified to teach in public or private schools in the state of Florida or to seek certification in other states, as the state of Florida has reciprocity with many other states.

While students learn theory in the classroom, they can also see it in practice in internship experiences and have access to faculty, staff and cooperating schools for support. That combination ensures the students’ success. Wherever Florida College graduates choose to teach after graduation, Michael Benson, co-chair of the elementary education department, emphasizes that building a relationship with their students is vital.

“Building relationships and connections with students is a part of teaching,” Benson said. “The student will see the teacher as someone who is real and genuine. In turn, the student will see that the teacher truly does care about him or her and will probably work harder for the teacher because of that. In an ever-changing world where much negative happens, it is important for younger students to have a positive role model and our elementary education graduates are prepared to be that shining light.”

Many Florida College graduates are making a difference by teaching in the Tampa, Florida community as well as other parts of the country. It is common for the Elementary Education faculty members, which also includes co-chair Suzanne Roberts, to hear from local teachers and administrators that their students have high character, work as dependable employees and are highly effective in their teaching.

“There are classrooms all over this country,” Benson said, “that have a teacher who has high morals in this dark world and is striving to be a good example in a Godly manner. That’s the Florida College elementary education graduate.”