Early Childhood Education

Whether you want to guide the discovery and learning of toddlers in childcare or second-graders in a classroom, SAU gives you the skills to have a profound influence on youth.

Our students work at Head Start, Illinois Regional Office of Education, Area Education Agencies, and as teachers in public and private schools in Illinois, Arizona, California, Colorado, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Ambrose Advantages

  • Enriching Learning Environment
  • Faculty Mentors
  • Do Your Practicum at SAU’s Accredited Children’s Campus

students in classroom

studying in library

reading to students

Our faculty offer you a hand of guidance during your education while you put your hands to work with children. The SAU Teacher Education program is noted for graduating competent and professional teachers and you can receive an initial license to work in Iowa agencies and schools.

Read Our Early Childhood Education Fact Sheet (pdf)

More Information on Early Childhood Education

What will I learn?

You will learn how to teach all children -- including those with disabilities and developmental delays -- from birth to age 8, in public and private schools, pre-schools, and other settings. Required courses include early childhood development, education technology, assessment practices, administration and nutrition, and managing behavior and social integration skills

You will begin working with children early in your college career. The SAU Children's Campus is a fully licensed, nationally-accredited childcare center where you will get hands-on field experience. We also have strong, established relationships with Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency, Early Access, Davenport Community School District, and other school districts and agencies that serve a diverse population of children and settings.

See how SAU students and faculty made learning muddy and fun for youth at the Children's Campus.

During your one-semester Capstone course, you get to develop an idea or problem and conduct research in the classroom. 

What learning opportunities are available?

At St. Ambrose we give you unmatched real-world experience at both the Children's Campus and the Reading Clinic.

The Children's Campus is the lab site for our early childhood education majors. It is an accredited, fully-operational early childhood program serving up to 70 children of all abilities, ages six weeks to six years-old. The Children's Campus also offers educational experiences and resources for families. The lab experience focus is on excellence in teaching and creating an environment of mutual trust.

Our Reading Clinic is open during the academic year at Adams Elementary School in Davenport. Up to 60 undergraduate students (early childhood and elementary majors) work with youth to increase their reading skills. Our students are responsible for lesson plans, testing, and evaluation. A shortened clinic is offered in the summer, and is opened to all K-8 students in the Quad Cities area.

At most universities, such experience would be reserved for master's students. Not at St. Ambrose. We believe you need these skills before stepping into your own classroom.

We also make sure our students have all the resources they need. The SAU School of Education Curriculum Library has educational material, instructional resources, and teaching aids that will help prepare you in filling one of the most influential roles in a young person's life: a teacher.

Our Early Childhood Education program offers students the opportunity to study abroad in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Scholarships are available.

What are some possible job outcomes?

Early Childhood Educators are in high demand, giving you many diverse career options. You can care, inspire, and teach children in pre-school, childcare, elementary school, or even work as a private or school district tutor.

Our education graduates not only teach in classrooms but also are employed as school librarians, reading teachers, and curriculum specialists.

If you decide to continue your education, St. Ambrose offers a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education and a Master of Education in Educational Administration. Those programs allow you to continue working with professors you have come to know, and who know you, too.

Faculty and Staff

Tom Carpenter, Professor; Director, School of Education
Sallee Beneke, Assoc. Professor, MECE Director
Bill Thiessen, Instructor, MEA Director 
Administrative Assistants: Jennet JewellTeri McDonald, Trish Zinger

Gene Bechen, Professor
Dale Blesz, Assoc. Professor
Brenda Boleyn, Professor
Cathy Daters, Professor
Kate Degner, Asst. Professor
Becky Furlong, Instructor
Nancy Gardner, Instructor
Laurie Jeans, Asst. Professor
Dick Robertson, Assoc. Professor
Rachel Serianz, Professor
Deanna Stoube, Professor
Edwin Ubeda, Asst. Professor
Tanya Volkova, Assoc. Professor
Barbara Wiese, Professor

What have alumni of this program done?

Meredith Tangen '08, '10 MBA was recognized by the Iowa Association for Career and Technical Education for her "significant contributions toward innovative and unique career and technical education programs" during her tenure as a math teacher at Davenport West High School.

Teacher Education Program Admission Steps

The Teacher Education Program at St. Ambrose University includes areas of study necessary to prepare highly-qualified, professional classroom teachers and enables the student to receive an initial license to teach in Iowa agencies and schools.

The program is approved by the Iowa Department of Education. Through agreements with other states, graduates may apply for certification after receiving an Iowa license.

There is some planning involved before you apply, so follow the steps below.

Steps to Apply for Admission to the Teacher Education Program

Step One:

Complete these general education courses:

ENGL 101 Written Communications
PSYC 105 Introduction to Psychology
One course in American History or American Government
One Biology and Non-biological Science (only ECE/Elem. majors)
COMM 110 Basic Human Communication

Step Two:

Enroll in EDUC 205 or EDUC 207. Prerequisites: Complete (or transfer) 12 credit hours. GPA must be at least 2.7.

Step Three:

While enrolled in either EDUC 205 or EDUC 207, apply for admission to the Teacher Education Program while making sure you satisfy these GPA and ACT requirements below.

Admission Requirements

GPA and ACT Requirements

Overall GPA for entrance to the Teacher Education Program and maintenance of status within the TEP shall be calculated by using only the credits transferred into St. Ambrose University plus the credits earned at SAU.

1. For applicants to the program during 2016-2018 acceptance requires:

a.     ACT score of 21 (or whatever score is in the top 50% nationally at that time)
b.     Cumulative GPA of 3.0
c.     Education GPA of 3.0
d.     Content GPA (if applicable) of 3.0  

2. For applicants to the program during 2018-2020 acceptance requires:

a.     ACT score of 22 (or whatever score is in the top 40% nationally at that time)
b.     Cumulative GPA of 3.0
c.     Education GPA of 3.0
d.     Content GPA (if applicable) of 3.0  

3. For applicants to the program 2020 and beyond acceptance requires:

a.     ACT score of 23 (or whatever score is in the top 33% nationally at that time)
b.     Cumulative GPA of 3.0
c.     Education GPA of 3.0
d.     Content GPA (if applicable) of 3.0  

Requirements for all years of entry:

a.   Pass the Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators Exam.
   i. Reading - score of 156
   ii. Writing - score of 162
   iii. Math - score of 150
b.   Complete 50 field hours in EDUC 205 or provide verification through EDUC 207.
c.   Two professional rating forms (EDUC 205 or 207 instructor, and cooperating teacher's evaluation) which show applicant earned an average rating of at least Developing (3) in the three separate dispositional categories and recommended by both course instructor and cooperating teacher to continue on into the program.
d.   Receive a grade of "B" or above in EDUC 205 or 207.
e.   A completed application for admission to teacher education program form (including statement of fraud section and necessary signatures). 

Degree Requirements

Majoring in Early Childhood Education is equivalent to an Iowa early childhood endorsement.

To acquire an Iowa early childhood endorsement - licensed to teach children birth to 3rd grade with and without disabilities - an applicant needs the following:

EDUC 205 Intro to Teaching, 2 credits or 207 Orientation to Teaching, 1 credit
EDUC 284 Child and Adolescent Development
EDUC 300 Diversity and Culturally-Responsive Teaching
WI-EDUC 301 History and Philosophy of Education
EDUC 308 Educational Technology, 2 credits
EDUC 309 Educational Psychology
EDUC 312 Curriculum Development for Young Children (ages 5-8)
EDUC 371 Language Arts and Reading in the Elementary Schools (grades 4-8)
EDUC 452 Diagnostic and Prescriptive Techniques of Teaching Reading, 4 credits
One course in US History or Government;
6-7 credits in Biology and Natural Science.

Two of the following:
EDUC 440 Student Teaching Early Childhood Birth-3
EDUC 441 Student Teaching Early Childhood Ages 3-6
EDUC 442 Student Teaching Early Childhood Ages 5-8
PSYC 105 Introductory Psychology
SPED 310 Inclusion Strategies for Students with Special Needs
SPED 313 Collaboration with Families and Professional
ECSE 204 Introduction to Early Childhood Education
ECSE 311 Assessment of Young Children
ECSE 321 Management of Young Children
ECSE 410 Infant Toddler Curriculum and Methods
ECSE 420 Development Curriculum and Methods
COMM 325 Introduction to Speech Pathology
ECE 303 Literacy for Young Children
ECE 307 Science for Young Children
ECE 308 Social Studies for Young Children
ECE 350 Math Education for Young Children
ECE 365 Early Childhood Development
ECE 381 Health, Nutrition, and Public Policy

Pre-Student Teaching
A minimum of 215 clock hours of pre-student teaching experiences in a school or agency setting at three different age levels (0-3 or 3-6 years or grades K-3) are required before student teaching.

Early Childhood Education majors also must present evidence of current certification in infant, child, and adult CPR and first aid before the student teaching semester.

Specific course information, State of Iowa competencies, and class listings can be found in the Course Catalog.

For More Information

Dr. Sallee Beneke, 563/333-6107
Dr. Brenda Boleyn, 563/333-6103
Debra Brownson, Children's Campus Director, 563/324-2312

Student Teaching

Student teaching is usually in the last semester before graduation and the placement is all day, every day, for one semester.

Guidelines for Admission to Student Teaching

The applicant must meet the following requirements for admission to student teaching and graduation:

1. Admission to the Teacher Education Program. Completion of a proposed sequence of courses leading to licensure.
2. Maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.70 with 3.00 GPAs in education and major/endorsement courses. All grades must be C or above in education and major/endorsement courses. D or F grades are unacceptable.

Note: A student who does not meet any of the above requirements may file an appeal. All appeals must be submitted in writing to the Teacher Education Appeals Committee through the Assessment Coordinator of the Teacher Education Program, one semester before the start of the student teaching semester.

Plan to Graduate

This is the suggested plan of study to graduate in four years with a degree in Early Childhood Education.

If a student does not have three years of foreign language in high school, then 9-11 credits of a foreign language are required. Also, students must demonstrate proficiency in Math 131 or take that course in addition to a higher level mathematics course.

Year 1

Written Communication 3 EDUC 284 Child/Adolescent Psychology 3
KIN 206 First Aid or Competency 2 EDUC 205/207 Field Experience 1-2
PSYC 105 Introduction to Psychology 3 THEO/PHIL 3
Theology 3 Creative Arts 2-3
Philosophy 3 Natural Sci: Biology 3
Information Literacy 1 Oral Communication 2-3
Total 15 Total 14-17

Year 2

Humanities: U.S. History 3 Wellness KIN 149 1
ECSE 204 Intro to ECE 3 ECSE 420 Curriculum 3
ECE 365 Early Child Dev. 3 ECSE 311 Assessment 3
EDUC 309 Educational Psychology 3 EDUC 371 Lang.Arts & Reading Grades K-3 3
EDUC 282 Educational Technology 2 Humanities 3
MATH 210 Math Skill Requirement 3 EDUC 312 Curriculum Ages 5-8 3
Total 17 Total 16

Year 3

ECSE 321 Behavior Management 3 ECSE 410 Infant/Toddler Curriculum 3
ECE 303 Literacy for Young Children 3 ECE 308 Social Studies for Young Children 3
SPED 310 Inclusive Strategies 3 ECE 307 Science for Young Children 3
EDUC 452 Diagnostic and Prescriptive Techniques of Teaching Reading 4 SPED 313 Collab. with families 3
ECE 381 Health, Nutrition & Public Policy 3 PHIL/THEO 300 level 3
Total 16 Total 15

Year 4

EDUC 301 Hist./Phil. of Educ. 3 Student Teaching Semester
ECE 350 Math Education for Young Children 4 (Choice of two)
COMM 325 Intro to Speech Pathology 3 EDUC 440 0-3
EDUC 300 Diversity and Culturally-Responsive Teaching 3 EDUC 441 3-6
Multidisciplinary: Physical Sci. 3 EDUC 442 5-8
Total 16 Total 15


Scholarships and Grants


For academic/merit-based awards, eligible students are matched to the qualifying award; some of them are listed below.

For need-based support, eligibility is determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The SAU school code is 001889.

You may also qualify for a scholarship or grant due to your talent in the fine arts or athletics. Give us a call or send an email so we can get to know you and find the best package for you. (You're also encouraged to seek outside scholarships and begin that search early.)

Institutional scholarships (2018-19)

There is no need to apply for the scholarships or grants below; students automatically are eligible if they meet specific criteria, although some may require a certain GPA to stay eligible.

The Admissions Office calculates the award amount by using high school GPA and ACT/SAT scores.

Ambrose Scholar
For First Year, on-campus residents only. Straight As on high school transcript and a minimum 30 ACT score. Applicants who meet Ambrose Scholar criteria will be invited to compete for a full-tuition scholarship for $@{17-18-Tuition}.

Trustee Scholar
$22,000/year - For First-year, on-campus residents only. Unweighted 3.8 GPA, 28+ACT. May be offset by state and/or federal aid if eligible.

Academic Scholarship
$14,000-17,000/year - Based on GPA and ACT/SAT score

University Grant
$12,000/year - Based on high school GPA and ACT/SAT score

Additional Scholarships (2018-19)

If you want to apply for any of the scholarships below, contact the Admissions Office.

Fine Arts Scholarships
Award based on performance and ability in art, music, or theatre. Includes the Michael Kennedy Theatre Scholarship. Audition or portfolio required.

Athletics Scholarships
Award varies. Based on performance and ability. Marching Band scholarships available. See below.

Freeman Pollard Minority Scholarship
$1,000 for on-campus students; $500 for off-campus. For accepted minority students.

Diocese of Davenport Catholic Parish Scholarship
Award varies. For First Year students only who are recommended by their parish pastor in the Diocese of Davenport. Recommendation to be completed by your pastor available here (pdf).

Father Welch Alumni Scholarship
$1,000/year. For on-campus students only whose parent is a St. Ambrose graduate.

Athletic Scholarships

As a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), St. Ambrose can award athletic scholarships to student athletes. These scholarships allow you to earn a college education while competing in the sport that you love. At Ambrose, we embody that value of developing both the mind and body.

How do I qualify for an athletic scholarship?
You must first be eligible to play a sport at St. Ambrose. You can read about those qualifications here. The NAIA also has a complete website on how to register for eligibility at playNAIA.org

Transfer Scholarships

Amounts are for transfer students entering St. Ambrose in the 2018-19 academic year.

St. Ambrose scholarships are awarded for fall and spring semesters only and renewable up to 120 credits of undergraduate study, which includes credits transferred to St. Ambrose from prior attendance. For example: If you transfer in with an AA/AS degree, you would receive a scholarship for two additional years at St. Ambrose.

For questions about any of the awards below, give our friendly Financial Aid Office a call at 563-333-5775.

Institutional Aid

Guaranteed Minimum Scholarship Award 

based on GPA (Grade Point Average)
3.5-4.00 GPA: $12,000 per year scholarship award
3.0-3.49 GPA: $11,000 per year scholarship award
2.5-2.99 GPA: $10,000 per year scholarship award
2.0-2.49 GPA: $8,000 per year scholarship award

Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society

Criteria: Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society membership
Award: $12,500/year for new transfer students, renewable each year up to eight semesters, including transfer hours. Scholarships awarded for fall and spring semesters only. GPA is based on 4.0 scale.

Out-of-State Grant

Criteria: non-Iowa resident
Award: $2,000/year

Fr. Welch Alumni Scholarship

Criteria: parent is a St. Ambrose graduate; on-campus students only
Award: $1,000/year

Freeman Pollard Diversity Award

Criteria: accepted diverse student
Award: $1,000/year on-campus; $500/year off-campus

Athletics Scholarship

Criteria: performance and ability
Marching band scholarships also available
Award varies

Fine Arts Scholarship

Criteria: performance and ability in art, music, theatre
Audition or portfolio required
Award varies

Dual Admission Scholarship

Criteria: participant in SAU/community college dual admission program
Award: $1,000 maximum

Fr. Menke Catholic Parish Scholarship

Criteria: attend Catholic parish in Diocese of Davenport; on-campus students only
Award varies

Federal and State Aid

Federal Pell Grant

Criteria: based on financial need; file FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1
Award: $5,920 maximum

Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FESOG)

Criteria: based on financial need, priority to Pell Grant recipients. File FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1.
Award: $400 maximum

Federal Work Study Award

Criteria: based on financial need. File FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1
Award: $1,850

Iowa Tuition Grant

Criteria: based on financial need, Iowa residents only. File FAFSA as soon as possible after Oct. 1, deadline July 1.
Award: 5,650

Carver Scholarship

Criteria: Iowa resident and entering junior, visit carvertrust.org for eligibility details, deadline April 1.
Award: $7,600 maximum

Outside Scholarships

There are many opportunities to receive scholarships from outside sources, here are a few websites to begin researching your options:

Another tip: Next time you're on campus, check out the bulletin board outside Bee Central where we post more flyers and applications for outside scholarships.

Apply Visit Info


Tom Carpenter, PhD, Director

School of Education
Ambrose Hall
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA 52803

So, what's next?

Are you ready to take the next step? St. Ambrose offers more than 60 programs and 27 athletic teams and sports to join on campus. Become an Ambrosian today!