Mississippi State University is home to the only Master of Science in Early Intervention in the state of Mississippi. Offered entirely online, this degree helps pave the way for professionals who want a degree in early intervention as well as opens doors for career advancement.
"We are delighted to actually offer this program online because we recognize that there, within our state specifically, are many professionals who are already working in early intervention or related fields who want a degree in early intervention," Dr. Julie C. Parker, an associate professor and program coordinator for the online early intervention program, said. "With this program online, it allows students to pursue their degree and maintain their job as well."
Paige Martin, student currently advancing her degree in the online early intervention program from New Hampshire, is working full time while taking classes online.
"I taught in a one-year-old classroom for nearly four years while I pursued my bachelor's degree. After graduating I worked at a non-profit family and community resource center and fell in love with supporting kids and families in this new capacity. Since then, I work at my local United Way where I manage their early childhood initiative and get to be a part of important work like early childhood systems building and advocacy," she said. "I felt like the early intervention course has a strong focus on respecting the role of the family and it really complements the work that I am doing now."
Martin took a class taught by Parker prior applying for admission which sparked her interest to dive deeper into the Master of Science in Early Intervention program with Mississippi State University Online.
Parker has a background in early intervention and child life and has taught several early intervention classes over the course of her career.
"I'm really happy to have this opportunity to not only have the degree but to be immersed in the early intervention world again, from the perspective of teaching classes, and advising and mentoring students through the process," she said.
Even though the Master of Science in Early Intervention program is online, Parker always makes sure to bring that face to face experience for all her students. With synchronous classes, students can meet virtually with their instructors.
"That real, online communication really does simulate kind of the classroom face to face connection. Students can talk with each other, hear presentations, and have discussions." she explained. "I talk with my students on a weekly basis and try really hard to make this online experience not only convenient and conducive to their lifestyle, but as robust as possible for their learning experience."
As for the future of the program, Parker anticipates growth to the fullest capacity as the program gains more visibility. One of the ultimate goals for the program is to strengthen the workforce in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)- Part C programming for the state of Mississippi. Part C of IDEA, otherwise known as the Birth to Three Program, is a federally funded Early Intervention program, offering early intervention services and a statewide support system to families with children who have developmental delays or disabilities, according to IDEA, Part C.
"We have not had an early intervention program in over 10 years in our state and we now have the capacity to gain professionals who have specific training in working with young children who have disabilities and their families," said Parker.
For more information on the Master of Science in Early Intervention visit, our MSEI homepage.
Article and Photo by Lauren Benton