Media Contact: Alex Lyda;
For immediate release — May 5, 2023
(DALLAS) — As a school bus driver, Ramia Dawes set out to earn her bachelor’s degree in education from Dallas College as soon as she realized she wanted to spend the entire day with her students, who until then were only her passengers in the mornings and afternoons.
“Being an educator became a dream of mine and while I enjoyed being in transportation, I wanted to be in a position to lead and teach students in the classroom,” she said. “So I enrolled in the Dallas College bachelor’s in education program after driving a bus for 11 years and it’s truly the best decision I’ve ever made.”
Dawes is one of 125 students who will be graduating next week with her bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education. For the first time in its 57-year history, Dallas College will be graduating an inaugural class of bachelor’s degree students — a pivotal moment not only for the students and their futures, but for the college, which traditionally offered only associate degrees as its highest degree credential.
The School of Education will be honoring these new graduates at a May 9 reception beginning at 6 p.m. at the
Dallas College Bill J. Priest Institute, in a special evening featuring Dallas ISD Principal Tito Salas, who made headlines last summer for creating a viral welcome-back-to-school video at John F. Peeler Elementary School in Oak Cliff.
Salas, who will be speaking about the power of teacher diversity and the impact of students seeing teachers who look like them, will be followed by a “cording ceremony” where students will be presented with the ropes and tassels that will be worn during
Dallas College’s 2023 graduation. At the ceremony, parents and family will be able to take pictures of their students.
As the bachelor’s in education degree grows in popularity, some 430 students are already enrolled and taking upper-level classes toward the degree through the School of Education and are on track to graduate in the next two years, says Jeffrey Miller, SOE’s Dean of Student and Faculty Empowerment.
“I can’t believe it’s happened so fast, and here we are, about to graduate our first cohort of bachelor’s degree students,” Miller says. “The potential for the program to really scale is there because a lot of these students are right at the edge of finishing their associate degree. It seems like just yesterday we were looking at applications and now we are about to have graduates from the bachelor’s program with exponential growth on the way.”
More than 1,100 students who are currently taking classes toward an associate degree have indicated they will apply to the bachelor’s program and have selected it as their program of study.
Dr. Rob DeHaas, vice provost of the Dallas College School of Education
“By establishing a Bachelor of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education and Teaching program in 2021, Dallas College and the School of Education opened a new and exciting pathway to the teaching profession,” says SOE Vice Provost Rob DeHaas. “We’re now seeing these students on the cusp of graduating and fully prepared to become teachers themselves — a much-needed opportunity in an area where there is currently a dearth of highly qualified teachers.”
According to a 2021 report by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, less than 30 percent of the current early childhood workforce holds a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree in early childhood education provides educators with a comprehensive understanding of child development, educational theory, and classroom management techniques, which are essential to positive learning outcomes for young children.
For her part, Dawes says her student experience has not just made her into a dedicated and highly qualified teacher, but a more well-rounded professional in general.
“Dallas College has made me become more goal-oriented, and the one-on-one coaching at Dallas College has given me purpose,” Dawes says. “I have learned things that I will use going into the field, and the support has helped me get this far in the program and graduate.”
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