Today's schools are in critical need of effective elementary education teachers. Between 2012-2022, over 18.5% growth in the need for teachers is expected. Of the nearly 211,000 teaching positions, roughly 87,000 will be in elementary education (Illinois Department of Employment Security, 2014).
Benedictine's state approved Elementary Education program is dedicated to meeting that challenge consistent with state and national standards.
As you prepare to become an elementary education teacher, you will:
Candidates in the Elementary Education Program are supported by qualified faculty, university supervisors, and staff as they progress through their curriculum and clinical experiences. Candidates receive a solid foundation to become effective elementary education teachers committed to scholarship, lifelong inquiry, leadership, and social responsibility.
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After a thirty-year career as a high school math teacher, Dr. James Pelech joined the School of Education in June of 2003. Dr. Pelech has earned a Doctorate in Curriculum and Social Inquiry from National Louis University, a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Mathematics Education from Concordia University, a Masters of Business Administration from Governors State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from Saint Norbert College.
Dr. Pelech taught mathematics at three high schools. His academic initiatives included cross-curricular teaching and Problem-Based Learning (PBL), new teacher mentoring, and being a member of the North Central Accreditation Team. In 2003 he was Richards High School’s nominee for the “Excellence in Education Award.”
Here at Benedictine Dr. Pelech continues to use PBL and the creation of authentic products in all classes. Examples of authentic products include the design of a multi-media project for a local K-8 school focusing on such topics as “How to prepare for a test,” or “How to organize one’s materials”. It must be noted that these projects are actually used by this school. In an interdisciplinary course involving health services professions, students are asked to design a display for a health fair focusing on underserved communities. Dr. Pelech utilizes Benedictine values in his teaching as he uses ideas from the Rule of Benedict as teaching strategies. In 2016 he was awarded the Kevin Doyle Faculty Award for Leadership in Mission and Catholic Identity.
Dr. Pelech’s research focuses on using action research to enhance student learning. Previous research topics include analyzing how class quizzes can actually increase learning, and examining student time management. He has had two books published. The first one, The Comprehensive Handbook of Constructivist Teaching: From Theory to Practice discusses how to incorporate the Constructivist philosophy into one’s daily teaching. The second book, Guide to Transforming Teaching Through Self-Inquiry, focuses on the use of the Constructivist theory to monitor such teacher activities as personal journal writing, research, and professional development.
In terms of professional development, Dr. Pelech is very involved in a wide range of professional activities and organizations. He is a Fulbright Specialist, and in the spring of 2016 he provided professional development to faculty and students at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. This initiative resulted in an electronic research conference in 2017 between Charles University’s Doctoral candidates and Benedictine undergraduate students. Dr. Pelech’s professional development also includes working with various departments here at Benedictine. He is past President of the Association for Constructivist Teaching, an international organization comprised of teachers, administrators, and researchers. He was one of the founding members of the Benedictine/Saint Ethelreda partnership. In this capacity he works with teachers from this school to improve their teaching; this includes co-teaching at different grade levels. He is also President of the Saint Ethelreda School Board which was named one of the recipients of the National Catholic Education Association’s “Outstanding Board" Award.