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What is the Pathways Program?
The Pathways Program is a teacher certification program which provides the appropriate coursework for a Missouri teaching certificate for K-12 cross-categorical special education. This program is designed to support adults who wish to return to school to earn teaching credentials in the field of special education.

In addition, for those students who have not yet completed a bachelor’s degree, the Pathways Program leads to a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Special Education. For participants who have already earned a bachelor’s degree the program can lead to a Master of Arts in Education (MAED) with the emphasis in Special Education.

What is unique about the Pathways Program?
All Pathways students are currently working in school settings. They may serve students with special needs as teachers under a Temporary Authorization Certificate, teacher assistants, paraprofessionals, ABA therapists plus a wide variety of other student support services.  The program has been designed with adult learners as its focus. There is a high degree of awareness that the Career Builders must balance university courses with work and family responsibilities.

The Pathways program is unique in its design. Participants are able to continue their work duties while they complete their coursework. Classes are scheduled for just one evening per week and begin in the late afternoon (4:30-9:15). Fall and spring classes are held at Compton Drew Middle School in the St. Louis Public Schools or Special School District of St. Louis County to save time and money. Summer classes are held in mid-afternoon (2:00-5:10) to again allow students to work during summer school. These classes are taught on the main Fontbonne University campus.

Another unique feature of the program focuses on the scheduling of courses each semester. During most semesters the courses will be eight (8) weeks in length and students will be taking only one course during each eight week segment. Summer courses are three weeks in length.

The university /faculty instructors in the Pathways Program are practitioners in the field of education and special education. They are able to support the Pathways students in acquiring the appropriate skills and knowledge to work with children with special needs. The instructors utilize the expertise of the students enrolled in the classes since each Pathways student is currently working with K-12 students with special needs. The design of each course leads from a research base of knowledge to practical applications in the classroom.

As a new group (cadre) of Pathways students begins their course of study, the selection of courses for each semester for their entire program is designated. This allows students to plan ahead for the courses they may need to take.

For the most part each cadre continues to take courses together throughout the nine semesters of the program. If a student has completed a required course at another college or university, they do not repeat the course at Fontbonne University. Instead, they may move to another cadre for a course for that semester.

Pathways students receive a special discount on undergraduate tuition. And, all graduate students who are employed in a school receive a discount on graduate tuition.

How long will it take for me to complete my certification?
The typical Pathways student will complete nine (9) semesters of coursework while completing the certification program. Each semester is designed to provide six (6) credit hours toward the certification requirements. There are three (3) semesters in each calendar year with summer being the third semester. A total of 18 credit hours will be completed each calendar year. The total number of semesters will be based on the number of transfer credits that can be accepted.

What are the requirements for admission to Fontbonne University and the Pathways Program?
Undergraduates must have at least 60 credit hours that are accepted as transfer credits. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.25 or above is desirable.

Graduate students must present a transcript documenting the completion of a bachelor’s degree at a recognized college or university.

What are the professional requirements for completion of the certification program?
Undergraduates must successfully complete a minimum of 128 hours (including transfer hours), complete all requirements for teacher certification, and meet all requirements for their bachelor’s degree at Fontbonne University. This includes completion of the CBASE exam and a blended GPA of 2.5 or above for all courses taken at all colleges and universities. The GPA for professional courses must be 2.75 or above.

Graduate students must successfully complete all teacher certification courses and meet the appropriate requirements for teacher certification. A blended GPA of 2.5 or above must be achieved for all courses taken at all colleges and universities. The GPA for professional courses must be 2.75 or above.

The professional exit exam is the Praxis II in Special Education. The two required subtests must both be successfully completed at or above the average level for Missouri. The final certification requirement is a culminating project.

What types of courses must be completed for teacher certification?
All students must meet the general education requirements for Fontbonne University. These include courses in the social sciences, communication skills, humanities, natural sciences and mathematics.

The general education requirements are not a part of the courses offered through the Pathways Program. Any needed courses must be completed during approximately the first seven (7) semesters of the program of study. These courses may be taken at any recognized college or university and transferred to Fontbonne University.

The professional courses are those required by the state of Missouri for initial teacher certification in K-12 cross-categorical special education. These courses are offered during the nine semesters for each cadre.

The culminating activities are the two field experiences. These are a part of the certification requirements but are unique in the Pathways Program. The two field experiences are completed in your own classroom which allows you to continue to work as you reach the final steps in your certification program.

If I am a graduate student what additional courses will I need beyond the certification courses?
At the present time you will need to complete an additional 6 credit hours for your Master of Arts degree in Teaching.  You also have options to complete a MAED in Reading or an MAED in Curriculum and Instruction. Additional degree programs will be available within the next year.

Can I receive Financial Aid?
You should apply for financial aid through the Fontbonne University Financial Aid Office. Please contact them directly at (314) 889-1414. You may complete your FAFSA form online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. Fontbonne’s Title IV code is 002464. The staff will assist you in determining the types and amounts of financial aid available to you. It is helpful to mention to the staff that you are a new Career Builder from Special School District or St. Louis Public Schools.

You must always be registered for a minimum of six (6) credit hours at Fontbonne University to receive financial aid.

How can I become part of the Pathways Program?
The first step would be to submit a letter of interest to Mrs. Kathleen Schwarting at Fontbonne University. This letter should be accompanied by copies of unofficial transcripts. The letter and copies of transcripts can be sent via US Mail or a FAX. A transcript review will be complete and returned to you by mail. This transcript review allows you to see what courses will be accepted as transfer credits and what courses will need to be taken as a part of the Pathways coursework.

After you receive your transcript review you will be invited to discuss your admission and registration for courses.

At this time, the Paraprofessional Pathways program is only available to residents of certain areas within Missouri and Illinois.

Who can I contact for additional information?

Alexandra Gwydir
Fontbonne University
6800 Wydown
St. Louis, MO 63105
Phone: (314) 719-4358
E-Mail: agwydir@fontbonne.edu