All About Georgetown College’s MSD Certification for Initial Certification Program

What does the MSD Certification for Initial Certification program encompass?

Georgetown College’s Initial Certification Program in Moderate and Severe Disabilities (MDS) allows candidates to pursue a master’s degree with two options. They can either earn the degree and certification as a student teacher, working towards certification, and then a teaching position after the certification has been awarded.

The other route, and a more popular program, is the option where candidates work in an MSD classroom while taking courses towards the degree. With this option, candidates apply for a temporary provisional certification with the state. Once granted, they begin teaching in their own MSD classroom.

With both certification options, candidates take fieldwork courses with a college observer from Georgetown College and a school-based mentor teacher who works with them to complete lesson plans, student supports, differentiation, and assessment. During these courses, candidates are formally observed. Observations allow the college observer and school-based mentor to support the candidate in understanding best practices and what needs to be changed to best support students and their individual needs. As candidates learn and grow, improvements should be noted. If a candidate struggles, then support is put into place to help assist them. The college observer works with the course instructor if any concerns or issues arise.

Throughout the coursework, the MSD Certification for Initial Certification program follows:

Coursework and assignments are linked to the above standards as a foundation for the expectations that we have for our program and the outcomes for our candidates and guide for best practices in special education. Specific goals and expectations help build the framework for the assignments that each candidate completes.

The overall program goals are to provide and support candidates as they earn an MSD certification. They will work collaboratively with the mentor teacher in:

  • Designing and conducting educational activities
  • Preparing and adapting materials and programs
  • Managing behaviors
  • Assessing, monitoring, and evaluating student performance
  • Collaborating with families and other personnel

They will demonstrate sensitivity to cultural differences and maintain positive relationships at the practicum site. They will show professional growth and technical, practical, and critical reflection. Finally, candidates will develop and implement lessons based on the general education curriculum and the relationship between school and cultural factors, individual needs, and classroom learning issues.

What differentiates Georgetown College’s MSD Certification for Initial Certification program from other schools that offer similar programs?

Georgetown’s initial MSD certification is unique in that it allows candidates to work full-time in an MSD classroom while taking classes towards the degree. It also allows candidates the opportunity to complete all coursework online. Candidates from all over the state can take classes with one another. This provides a unique opportunity for candidates to learn alongside peers that may have very different classroom make-ups, student demographics, and student challenges.

During their coursework, candidates work in groups to understand classroom issues, solve problems, develop lesson plans, behavioral supports, and differentiation. Sharing experiences is a valuable tool we rely upon. Each course is designed to allow candidates to work in small groups to share experiences and insight into the classrooms they are working in. From around the State, the classroom demographics and disability categories are varied, and this is critical to the learning that takes place in each course.

How will this program help educators during this time of COVID and post-COVID teaching? How will it better prepare them for today’s education challenges?

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit almost two years ago, candidates in the classroom had to learn how to implement virtual instruction while still learning best practices for their classroom. Many of them had to figure out ways to instruct their students virtually, while they also had to participate in school-based meetings, trainings, and Georgetown College observations.

In addition, they were still taking courses and had assignments to complete. It was a very stressful time for many candidates! We have learned a lot since virtual instruction began. Candidates are mostly back in the classroom, but we still have candidates that rely heavily on non-traditional education.

In our courses, we help candidates understand:

  • Online programming
  • Virtual instruction tools
  • Ways to present to a class with students (virtually as well as in person)
  • Best practices for keeping students engaged
  • Ways to address behaviors during virtual instruction
  • Techniques to help support parents that have students participating in school from home.

Giving our candidates the tools and resources they need to help them be prepared for any given situation is a top priority of the MSD program.

What career opportunities are available to students who graduate from the program?

Once candidates complete the program, they will be eligible to teach in a classroom in the State of Kentucky. Their certification will allow them to teach students at any grade level in an MSD (moderate and severe disabilities), FMD (functional mental disability), autism, or MD (multiple disabilities) classroom. During their coursework, we expect that candidates observe or work with students at all grade levels, P-12, giving them certification to teach at any grade, elementary, middle, or high school.

Why should a prospective student choose this program? Why should they choose Georgetown College?

Candidates ready to start a graduate program with moderate and severe disabilities certification are encouraged to apply at Georgetown College. The flexibility of online courses allows candidates from anywhere in Kentucky to participate in the MSD certification program. Candidates can take classes from their own home, school, or library, wherever they can log in and participate in their classes weekly.

In addition, candidates can apply for a teaching job and work in their classroom while they take classes. This is appealing to many individuals that cannot take time off to complete fieldwork hours and student teaching or those who want to go ahead and work in their classroom while they are taking classes. Completing an MSD certification program at Georgetown College will prepare candidates to work with students with the most challenging disabilities across Kentucky.