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Mercer offering new master's degree program

By Todd DeFeo

Anticipating a growing need for principals and school administrators statewide, Mercer University is starting a new program that school officials say will allow in-service teachers in Metro Atlanta to earn a master's degree in administration.

Classes for a Master of Education in Educational Leadership program are slated to start in January on campuses in Macon, Atlanta and McDonough. The Georgia Professional Standards Commission approved the program Sept. 9.

"This program is an attempt to be responsive to the needs of the communities that we serve," Penny Elkins, associate professor of education and chair of the Tift College of Education programs in Henry and Douglas counties, said in a news release. "We believe strongly that this leadership program will have a tremendous impact on schools and children for generations to come."

Elkins will also chair the new program.

Currently, there are about 600 students taking classes at Mercer's Regional Academic Campus in Henry County, which opened in August 2003. In January, Mercer is also planning on offering on offering its Executive MBA program at the McDonough campus, Jenny Butkus, Assistant Director of University Relations and Marketing, said.

"We expect to have a total of 80 students (at the three Atlanta locations) begin the educational leadership program in January," Butkus said. "Thirty of these students we are expecting to be enrolled in the Henry County program."

Blending what school officials say is theory with practice; leadership candidates will be required to participate in internships each semester. Mercer University will also offer add-on certification in educational leadership for educators who already have a M.Ed. degree

"To say that we are excited about this program and the opportunities it will provide would be an understatement," Mercer's Tift College of Education Dean Carl Martray said. "The high quality, rigorous program we have developed will exceed the standards of the profession."

The program is based on the Education Leadership Constituent Consortium's most current standards.