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Alvernia’s Education Programs Earn National Distinction

University receives nods for workplace readiness, accreditation, and experiential learning.

Dec 03, 2023

by Alvernia University

Alvernia University’s education programs earn a national endorsement from Colleges of Distinction (COD), an online platform that aids college-bound students in the college decision process, and honors colleges and universities for their excellence.

“The Department of Education at Alvernia University is honored to receive this distinction,” said Alvernia University Dean of the College of Humanities, Education & Social Sciences (CHESS), Elizabeth Matteo, Ph.D. “This well-deserved distinction is timely considering the growing teacher shortage and the high need for qualified, well-trained, and compassionate educators. We know that our small class size, high standards for excellence, and commitment to our university’s core values prepare our students to become leaders in their profession.”

To earn this distinction, colleges must hold regional accreditation, offer multiple distinct disciplines, provide diverse experiential learning opportunities, high-quality academic advising and counseling, and high-impact practices such as research and community-based learning, as well as industry connections.

“Before granting awards, we conduct a thorough evaluation of the programs,” said Chief Operating Officer for Colleges of Distinction Tyson Schritter. “Alvernia produces future educators who possess not only in-depth knowledge but also the skills to be effective mentors, providing empathetic support and employing innovative teaching methods.”

The early childhood education program at Alvernia University has also been recognized by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) for its rigorous preparation of future teachers in how to teach reading, earning an “A” grade in NCTQ’s report, Teacher Prep Review: Strengthening Elementary Reading Instruction. The education department has two early childhood education (ECE) tracks leading to a bachelor’s degree with Grades PK-4 and dual Grades PK-4 and Special Education (PK-12) certifications. The dual certification allows program graduates to work as elementary educators (preschool through Grade 4), special education teachers, and learning support specialists (preschool through Grade 12) in public and private educational institutions.

“Courses in our early childhood education program are designed to provide our students with a comprehensive learning experience inside and outside the classroom,” said Education Department Chairperson Lucinda Schaeffer, Ed.D. “An important component of our program is experiential learning. With strong connections to coursework and research-based curriculum, students have the opportunity to engage in real-world learning from the start of the program. As the K-12 educational landscape changes, so does our instruction. Remaining at the forefront of current educational issues and trends makes our education program strong.”

Field experiences for both tracks start during the first semester and occur in diverse educational environments, including school districts, educational organizations, and after-school programs. Education majors engage in real-world teaching experiences, including urban and rural settings, diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, and different school sizes. The university also hosts an annual Education Dinner to foster collaborative conversation among the PK-12 grade school district education leaders and Alvernia education faculty to share innovative approaches to reshaping the PK-12 environment into student-focused education.

Earlier this year, Alvernia University was recognized by COD for being named a 2023-24 National, Catholic, and Pennsylvania College of Distinction.

Alvernia University is a Catholic comprehensive university with a liberal arts foundation founded by the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters in 1958. The university serves over 3,000 students in Reading, Pottsville, and Philadelphia with a unique blend of rigorous liberal arts education, strong technical training in many high-demand majors, ever-expanding experiential learning opportunities through study abroad and internship experiences, and community engagement through its Franciscan-based community service model.

Since 2000, Colleges of Distinction has been committed to honoring schools throughout the U.S. for true excellence in higher education. The member schools within the Colleges of Distinction consortium distinguish themselves through their dedicated focus on the undergraduate experience. Its website provides dynamic college profiles, customized tools, and resources for students, parents, and high school counselors. For more information, and to learn how to become a College of Distinction, visit

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