September 27, 2023

ANKENY, Iowa–A dream of nearly 20 years has come to fruition this fall at Faith Baptist Bible College. This academic year marks the first in which the college is offering both an endorsement and an associate of arts degree in Early Childhood Education (ECE). 

Dr. Mark Stupka, Chair of the Teacher Education Department, and various colleagues have long thought ECE aligns well with the department’s emphases and goals as well as the college’s mission. The proliferation of ECE within Christian ministries and learning centers housed in churches and Christian schools over the last decade confirmed Dr. Stupka’s conviction that Faith should add this endorsement and program. “We’ve had some interest in early childhood education for nearly 20 years, but we didn’t pursue it seriously until around five years ago,” Dr. Stupka recently explained. “Early on, the need didn’t seem so great, but increasingly churches and daycares have begun to serve parents in this way, and we realized it would be an important program to offer.” 

Adding programs, however, is not something that depends solely on the desires of a department. The Teacher Education Department had to make the case that this program would enhance current academic offerings and be a good mission fit for the college. During the 2020-2021 academic year, an ad hoc new programs task force met multiple times to determine the desirability, viability, and applicability (mission fit) of the potential program. This rigorous evaluation culminated in approval by the Board of Directors at their Spring ’22 meeting. 

Students may now add the endorsement to their Elementary Education bachelor’s degree program or pursue a 65-credit hour associate degree that combines ECE with Biblical Studies. Either option offers rigorous coursework that emphasizes vocational competence coupled with Biblical wisdom. This program also uniquely prepares students to work in established Christian daycare centers, to start in-home daycares, and to serve within and lead early childhood ministries in the local church. According to Dr. Stupka, the program is distinctive in these areas, especially in its emphasis on local church ministry: “We can see the importance of this program in the local church setting. That is something that would be emphasized. In general, the focus on strong Biblical training with training in the area of early childhood education provides a balanced education that prepares our students not only for service but also for living lives pleasing to the Lord.” 

As part of the launch of this new program, Faith hired Mrs. Stephanie Brahs, M.Ed., to teach ECE courses. Mrs. Brahs has more than a decade of teaching experience in ECE, and her expertise is integral to the success of this program in its early stages. This fall, several students enrolled in the associate of arts program, a number surely to increase as Faith promotes this degree and endorsement option. 

A long-held dream of the Teacher Education Department has become a reality this fall at Faith, and Dr. Stupka now finds himself pondering what the ECE programs will look like five years from now. In addition to numerous students in both the A.A. and endorsement options, Dr. Stupka hopes to see “growing relationships between Faith and early childhood institutions around the country in churches, Christian schools, or independent daycares” for mutual benefit. 

If you or someone you know is interested in pursuing a degree or endorsement in early childhood education, please contact our admissions team.