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School of Education

Meet the Dean

Barbara Baird-Pauli

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Our Christ-centered mission is to develop and empower dedicated professional educators committed to student learning in a global society.

Using the Spring Arbor University Concept as a foundation, the statement of purpose of the School of Education defines the function of our programs and curriculum. Teacher education is a major professional function of Spring Arbor, and one in which the principles of service to mankind as expressed in the Christian ethic have primary influence.

Guiding Principles

  • A Christian perspective informs who we are and what we do.
  • Our teaching and learning leads to competence in the domains of the conceptual framework.
  • Transformational learning leads to the development of dedicated professional educators.
  • We prepare students to be critical participants in issues of diversity, equity and global responsibility.

The education program at Spring Arbor University prepares students to teach at the elementary and secondary levels through the discussion and application of the key concepts and skills of teaching. Our curriculum applies psychological and sociological principles to the theories and techniques of education.

Message from the Dean

The teacher education preparation program at Spring Arbor University has been recognized since the inception of the teacher preparation institute (TPI) assessment in 2007 by the State of Michigan as being an exemplary program as measured by specific assessment indicators. This speaks well and appropriately for the program but does not fully speak to the level of commitment and sense of mission that our faculty, staff and students share. We believe that becoming a teacher is more than a profession, but is a higher calling. Therefore, the foundation for every facet of the School of Education is our faith and commitment to serving our students well so that they can go into the world and serve their students well. Because of this commitment, our faculty and staff seek opportunities to build relationships with our students so that individual attention becomes the manner through which we model faithful excellence in every area of our profession.

Barbara Baird-Pauli
Dean, School of Education

School of Education Promise

As the State of Michigan makes changes regarding teacher evaluation, Spring Arbor University’s SOE stands behind its promise to provide exemplary teacher preparation that will give graduates of both our undergraduate and graduate programs the solid footing that they’ll need to meet the ever-changing expectations for teachers.  

The SOE is so confident in this, we have created the Spring Arbor University School of Education Promise.

As the State of Michigan makes changes regarding teacher evaluation, Spring Arbor University’s School of Education is ready to stand behind its promise that its approach to teacher preparation is exemplary and provides graduates of both our undergraduate and graduate programs with the solid footing needed to meet the changing expectations of the future.  The School of Education is so confident of this that they have created the Spring Arbor University School of Education Promise.

Should one of our School of Education graduates receive an unsatisfactory performance evaluation within the first three years of employment, as verified by the graduate and their building administrator in writing, then the Promise will apply. Under the Promise, the SAU School of Education graduate may enroll in up to three SOE classes tuition free**(1-9 cr hrs), provided that the class has sufficient enrollment to run without the inclusion of Promise graduates.  Promise graduates would be required to work with a mentor as part of fulfilling their responsibility for taking these course(s).  Any graduate* from one of our School of Education initial certification programs will be covered under this Promise if they have taught full-time for at least one full academic year.

The Promise provides this opportunity for the period of one year following the initial unsatisfactory performance evaluation under which the claim is made.

No other opportunities beyond this are covered by the Promise.


A Spring Arbor University School of Education graduate, for the purposes of the Promise, is defined as:

  • Graduated from SAU School of Education with Michigan Department of Education initial certification

**Costs not covered by Promise

Course fees, Tech fees, and textbooks/resource materials costs are the completer’s responsibility.

Philosophy of the School of Education

We believe:

  • All children have the potential to learn, regardless of learning modality or cultural differences.
  • The foundation for teacher effectiveness is knowledge of the liberal arts grounded in a Christian worldview.
  • Nuclear and extended family members are a vital link for successful student achievement.
  • Meaningful knowledge is connected to prior learning and is constructed through critical and reflective thinking in the mind of the learner.
  • All students have the right to know explicitly what is expected of them in terms of assessment standards. A variety of assessment tools should be used.
  • Classroom management should be proactive.
  • Students learn best when actively engaged in the learning process.
  • Students learn best by working cooperatively or collaboratively with others.
  • The teacher must understand the central concepts, tools of inquiry and structure of the subject matter.
  • Technology should serve as a means to enhance student achievement.

Admission to the School of Education

The standards for admission to the SOE include those for admission to Spring Arbor University as well as other criteria specified by the SOE. Admission to the SOE is determined by a two-thirds vote, made by the education faculty present at the meeting at which the candidate is considered.

Students are held accountable to the policies and procedures outlined in the handbook in use at the time of application. Current handbooks are available at the SOE Office. Students will refer to the course requirements outlined in the academic catalog in use at their time of entry to SAU as they plan for graduation.Michigan Department of Education Administrative Rules, state laws and changes in the requirements of accreditation bodies (such as CAEP) supersede any requirements printed in the catalog or student handbook.


  • The Higher Learning Commission (HLC): All degrees offered by Spring Arbor University are accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, 230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500, Chicago, IL 60604.
  • The Michigan Department of Education: The School of Education at Spring Arbor University is approved by the Michigan Department of Education for certification in Michigan in the subject areas listed here. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) federal legislation may affect the subjects which a certified teacher is qualified to teach. The School of Education will have the most recent information available through the Michigan Department of Education regarding this federal legislation. Students planning to be certified in other states should consult with the certification officer in the School of Education office early in the program. Students desiring Michigan certification are responsible for meeting all certification requirements of the Michigan Department of Education and the State Board of Education, whether or not they are explicitly stated in this Web site or other University publications.
  • U.S. Department of Education Title II: The program complies with the U.S. Department of Education Title II, Section 207 reporting procedures. Copies of the most recent or earlier reports are available upon request.
  • The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) recognizes the School of Education at Spring Arbor University as a fully accredited educator preparation program. The next CAEP accreditation visit will occur in spring of 2025.
    CAEP conducted an initial program (traditional undergraduate) accreditation visit of the Spring Arbor University School of Education in the fall of 2018. The site team reviewed the School of Education’s initial programs for Elementary Education, Secondary Education, Early Childhood Education, and Special Education. In addition, CAEP recognizes the CACREP accreditation for the Masters of Counseling program with a School Counseling component as the EPP’s only Advance program. The fall 2018 review by the CAEP Accreditation Council resulted in Spring Arbor University and 52 other providers from 27 states and Puerto Rico to receive accreditation for their education preparation programs.
    The Michigan Department of Education requires that all educator preparation programs be nationally accredited. Upon successfully completing the chosen program of study in which they choose to be certified, candidates participating in the Spring Arbor University School of Education accredited program become recognized certified teachers by the Michigan Department of Education.
  • Spring Arbor University joins a total of 196 other educator preparation providers nationwide to receive CAEP Accreditation.
  • The School of Education CAEP Annual Report and TITLE 1 Report can be viewed here:
  • The Masters of Arts in Counseling at Spring Arbor University is accredited through CACREP
  • 2021-2022 Completer Employment: 82.5% of SAU Teacher Education Graduates sought and successfully found employment as classroom teachers in their area(s) of certification.

Direct any questions regarding accreditation to the Academic Affairs office.

Career Opportunities

Students graduating from accredited universities in the state of Michigan are recognized throughout the United States as being highly qualified and well prepared to perform the duties of a classroom teacher with professionalism and skill. Spring Arbor students are also recognized as having a higher standard of excellence in their professional and personal demeanor because of the foundation of Christian ethic and commitment to their faith and their profession. Because of these expectations, Spring Arbor University teacher education students are pursued as teachers throughout the United States and other countries.