BETHANY, W.Va. – Bethany College's Department of Teaching and Social Services has received approval by the West Virginia Department of Education to create two new certification programs, an autism and reading endorsement. The autism program is the only undergraduate autism preparation program in the state while the reading education program will enable its completers to serve in Title I reading classrooms across the state as well as to meet the No Child Left Behind definition of a highly qualified teacher.

Bethany faculty in the Department of Teaching and Social Services began discussing the creation of these programs in January, and with the state's encouragement, submitted the proposals this summer. Bethany College was informed by the West Virginia Department of Education that it had received state approval for the two programs this past August.

Keely Camden, Assistant Professor of Education and Director of the Special Education program, said, "We've had an amazing response from students. The addition of the autism preparation program strengthens our education program by making our students more prepared and employable. There's a high demand in the education field for teachers with this particular qualification."

The reading education endorsement, which falls under the No Child Left Behind Act, will help Bethany students be competitive when applying for teaching positions. The reading program will enable Bethany students to fill many positions, including Title I positions. Previously certificates required for such positions were only provided by graduate institutions.

Wendy Clutter, Assistant Professor of Education, said, "The reading endorsement will position our graduates well for entrance into the job market. There is a need for certified teachers who have an emphasis in reading programs. Our students will already have the needed background before they graduate."

In addition to preparing the College's education majors, the endorsements will also have a positive impact on local educators. Several area teachers have expressed interest in the College's new programs.

"These endorsements are a service to the community. Teachers in our area need the opportunity to become more qualified and our programs will help provide that opportunity," Camden said.