Elementary Education

The Elementary Education program at RWU prepares teachers to educate the next generation of students. Here, you'll explore a broad spectrum of classroom subjects and school settings, both urban and suburban, through four years of field experiences integrated into your curriculum. Our students spend an extensive amount of time inside elementary classrooms working with students and learning from practicing teachers. You’ll graduate well-prepared to land your dream job. 

This major is coordinated by the Department of Education.

With small class sizes, individual attention from faculty and specialized training in educating high-needs youth, our program provides you with the skills to become a certified elementary school teacher. The scope and sequence of our program is designed to match current theories and practice in Elementary Education and is deeply rooted with our mission in social justice. This means the professional teacher education you receive at RWU is on the cutting edge of current educational research and practice.

A picture of a teacher working with two students

Success By The Numbers

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Placement of 2021 Grads

Even with the challenges of the pandemic, our 2021 graduates found success in employment or in graduate school within 6 months of graduation.

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Gain Hands-On Teaching Experience

Percentage of elementary and secondary education majors who get direct experience working in classrooms in local schools starting their first year.

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Accelerated Master’s Degree

Our education students have the opportunity to efficiently earn a master’s degree in Special Education with only one additional year of study.

Degree Requirements

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Four Years of Classroom Experience

In the RWU Department of Education there is a simple philosophy: The best place to teach a student how to be a teacher is inside a K-12 classroom. It's why all four years our students spend an extensive amount of time inside elementary and secondary classrooms working with students and learning from practicing teachers.

A RWU student teacher observing students

First-Year Experience 

It starts your freshman year. As part of courses, freshmen students visit elementary school classrooms with professors for observations. On these visits, RWU students get to see the theories and methods they are learning in their courses come alive. 

A student teacher working with students.

Second Year Experience 

Sophomore year, students are part of RWU's new residency model that places RWU students in an elementary school for an entire year under the supervision of a host teacher and RWU education faculty member. This extensive class-based experience helps prepare RWU students for success as soon as they graduate.

A student teacher works with a student

Junior Year Experience 

The junior year experience reinforces putting theory into practice. Juniors complete field practicums that let them apply what they are learning in their courses to real classrooms. Through this, RWU students gain the experience they need to teach effectively in classrooms of their own.

A student teacher works with students.

Senior Year Experience 

Senior year is the pinnacle of RWU's teacher preparation program. Students complete their student teaching experience where they take all the skills they have developed and apply it in an elementary classroom to show they are ready to be effective teachers upon graduation.

Headshot of Abigail Higgins

A Deeper Understanding Through First-hand Experience

Abigail Higgins, RWU Class of 2020
Elementary Education

Most teacher candidates at university-based programs don't have extensive faculty-supervised K-12 classroom time until their senior year. As a sophomore, elementary education major Abigail Higgins is breaking that mold thanks to the new elementary teacher residency model at RWU.

Read full story

Interdisciplinary Projects

Each year, Associate Professor of Science Education, Li-Ling Yang partners with Assistant Professor of Engineering Maija Benitz, to host the Kid Wind project, bringing hundreds of local fourth graders to campus to learn engineering design principles from RWU education and engineering students.  

RWU students and elementary students in a classroom looking at a project about wind energy"This project benefits both RWU students and the students in the Bristol-Warren school district. My students develop their expertise in creating developmentally appropriate science lessons for elementary students, and Benitz’s students are learning about wind energy,” said Yang. 

“Projects like this get you ready for the real-world in teaching,” said Elementary Education graduate Matt Turo '20. “We’re in charge of making the lessons by ourselves and delivering the information for the students to learn about specific concepts while achieving certain standards. It’s a transition into teaching your own classroom.” 

Study Abroad

Immerse yourself in a new culture and language by studying abroad. RWU has extensive opportunities in different geographic areas, including both short-term and semester-long experiences. Living and learning in another country helps prepare you to work in a culturally diverse setting and teach a global classroom.

Use Groundbreaking Technology 

Gain confidence in your teaching and learn from your mistakes in a safe space through virtual reality teaching simulations. You’ll practice effective communication and behavior management skills, preparing yourself for success in your student teaching placements and in your career. RWU is the only school in Rhode Island to offer this virtual reality experience.  

Learning Outcomes 

The RWU Elementary Education program is designed to meet the learning outcomes as articulated by the Rhode Island Professional Teaching Standards.

Learning Outcomes

School Placements

We place students at a number of local schools for classroom-based experiences. We partner with schools and their staff to ensure a quality and meaningful experience for both our students and the students at our partner schools. Partner schools run the gamut from urban and suburban schools. Schools we partner with include:

  • Alice M. Waddington School, East Providence, RI
  • Claiborne Pell Elementary School, Newport, RI
  • George J. West, Providence, RI
  • Global Learning Charter School, New Bedford MA
  • Hugh Cole Elementary School, Warren, RI
  • Kent Heights Elementary School, East Providence, RI 
  • Kickemuit Middle School, Warren, RI
  • Myron J. Francis Elementary School, East Providence, RI
  • Pocasset Elementary School, Tiverton, RI
  • Rockwell Elementary, Bristol, RI
  • Segue Institute for Learning, Central Falls, RI
  • St. Philomena School, Portsmouth, RI 
  • Tiverton Middle School, Tiverton, RI
  • William S. Greene Elementary School, Fall River, MA

Take a look at what our partnership with George J. West looks like. We partner deeply with West to ensure we prepare effective teachers and boost student achievement by aligning our goals and resources with the school.

Licensure

All teacher education programs at Roger Williams University are approved by the Rhode Island Department of Education. Under the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) agreement, our graduates are eligible for certification in Rhode Island and all other states with the exception of Alaska, Iowa and Minnesota.

Employment A student teacher standing next to a table with three young students

Because of the broad spectrum of school settings and experiences RWU students explore through four years of field experiences integrated into your curriculum, our graduates are highly skilled and highly valued. Recent RWU graduates have been hired by school districts in the following locations:

Districts
  • Achievement First
  • Argosy Collegiate Charter
  • Barrington RI Public Schools
  • Bristol-Warren RI Public Schools
  • Boston Public Schools
  • Brookline, MA Public Schools
  • Denver Public Schools
  • Fall River, MA Public Schools
  • First Iluminar Mayoral Academy, Providence, RI
  • Framingham Public Schools
  • Global Charter
  • Meeting St.
  • Success Academy, Harlam
  • Milton, MA public Schools-French Immersion
  • Natick MA Public Schools
  • New Bedford, MA Public Schools
  • Newton, MA Public Schools
  • Scituate MA Public Schools
  • Providence Public Schools
International
  • TASIS/Dorado, PR
  • Dominican Republic
  • San Salvador, El Salvador
  • Bermuda Public Schools
  • Madrid, Spain International School

Special Education 4 + 1 Program

A student teacher sitting down and reading a picture book to a group of young students in a classroomRecognizing the growing demand for all educators to possess specific skills in supporting students with exceptionalities, the M.A. Special Education program provides a perfect complement to the undergraduate initial teaching certification programs and related degrees offered at RWU. RWU undergraduate students with an interest in working in special education can earn six graduate credits in the M.A. Special Education program during their senior year and continue on in one additional year of full-time study (either elementary or secondary special education).  

Learn More

Graduate Study

Education never stops. Certified teachers have the opportunity to earn a Master of Arts in Literacy Education from RWU leading to advanced certification as a Reading Specialist (K-12).

And for those who want to earn a master's degree in another subject, our students have found themselves in programs at the following schools:

  • Brown University
  • Boston University
  • Boston College
  • Drexel University
  • Lesley University
  • Louisiana State University
  • Merrimack College
  • Simmons College
  • University of Georgia
  • University of Massachusetts/ Amherst & Lowell
  • University of Rhode Island
  • Rhode Island College
  • Overseas: University of Edinburgh, NUI in Galway, University College in Dublin