Vanessa Padilla, left, and Stephanie Puhl are Colorado Northwest Community College students attending a childhood development class Wednesday at the college. CNCC is offering other classes that will build toward a bachelor's degree in elementary education offered by Mesa State College. The college will bring the program to CNCC next fall.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Vanessa Padilla, left, and Stephanie Puhl are Colorado Northwest Community College students attending a childhood development class Wednesday at the college. CNCC is offering other classes that will build toward a bachelor's degree in elementary education offered by Mesa State College. The college will bring the program to CNCC next fall.

A while to wait

Mesa State plans to bring second half of elementary education program to Craig next fall

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At a glance

• Mesa State College plans to bring an elementary education program to CNCC in Fall 2009. • The program allows students to earn their associate's degree at CNCC and then obtain their liberal arts bachelor's degree and elementary education certification from Mesa State. • A total of at least eight students in Mesa State's 14-county service area need to be enrolled in the program before it can start the bachelor's degree phase of the program. • Dr. Ben Keefer, Mesa State Extended Studies director, said he expects the required number of students to be ready for the program next fall. • For more information about registering in the program, call 824-1100.

— Ready, set.

Wait.

It's the sequence for some Colorado Northwestern Community College students who are taking classes toward an elementary school teaching degree.

The program allows students to earn a bachelor's degree in elementary education through joint effort between CNCC and Mesa State College.

The plan: Students first earn their associate's degree at CNCC. After they complete the 60 credit-hour program, they earn their liberal arts bachelor's degree and elementary certification through Mesa State College.

Mesa State would bring its courses to the Craig campus, allowing Moffat County residents to complete their degree without leaving home.

Here's the stipulation: Mesa State officials want a cohort of students, or those who will graduate from the course concurrently, throughout its 14-country service area before beginning its phase of the program.

The required cohort must contain at least eight to 10 students, said Dr. Ben Keefer, Mesa State College Extended Studies director.

To date, CNCC has four students who are working toward the required associate's degree. One student is ready to begin working on a bachelor's degree this fall, Keefer said.

That student will have to wait.

Because not enough students in Mesa State's service area are ready to begin the program's second phase, the college plans to bring its bachelor's program to CNCC in Fall 2009.

Keefer made a presentation to CNCC students in November, when he introduced the program and gauged students' interest in it.

At that time, Keefer said, Mesa State officials hadn't officially determined a date on when it would bring its part of the program to the Craig campus.

Instead, they recently set a tentative start date at Fall 2009 after examining CNCC's current enrollment in the associate's program.

Next fall "looks like the time which most people will be ready" for the bachelor's portion of the program, Keefer said.

By that time, Keefer also expects to have a sufficient cohort, he said.

If not enough students are enrolled in the class by next fall, however, Keefer said Mesa State will "regroup" and keep trying to build interest in the program.

"From a business aspect, I totally understand why" Mesa State made its decision, said Gene Bilodeau, CNCC Craig campus dean, adding that Mesa State had made the cohort stipulation "very clear and up front."

However, he had anticipated the CNCC to have a larger cohort than it does now.

"I would have liked to see (the program) fly" this fall, he said.

He predicts students taking the class have the same reaction.

"I would think the four people (taking the classes) who are doing what they are supposed to do will be disappointed," Bilodeau said.

Still, there may be a silver lining for students who have put off enrolling in the program.

"The people who are not on the stick yet : will be relieved to have a little more time," Bilodeau said.

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