Guidelines for Ministry Certification
WELS Early Childhood Teaching Ministry Certification is intended for early childhood teachers only. It does not certify early childhood directors, elementary, or secondary teachers.
The synod’s preference is that men and women qualify themselves as early childhood teachers by graduating from Martin Luther College (MLC). However, because not all ECE teachers are graduates of MLC, these certification guidelines developed by the Conference of Presidents (COP) of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod seek to establish an adequate standard of teacher training that will ensure proficiency in carrying out the aims and objectives of WELS early childhood programs. In addition, these guidelines make it possible to carry out an orderly program of inservice training for early childhood teachers who are rendering a needful and valuable service in our schools but who have not yet fulfilled baccalaureate or certification requirements.
A. Early Childhood Program An early childhood program has a planned curriculum which is designed to meet the spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical needs of young children in a developmentally appropriate manner. In the WELS and for the purpose of these guidelines, this program includes preschool (birth to age five).
B. Certified Teacher Graduates of Martin Luther College (MLC) become certified teachers upon recommendation for a regular call into the teaching ministry. Others who have met minimum requirements for certification as outlined in these guidelines are certified by action of the COP.
C. Registered ECE Teachers Teachers who are not ministry certified, but meet the minimum requirements for ECE teachers in their state.
D. Regular Call A call which is extended to a ministry certified teacher.
E. Provisional Call A call which is subject to annual renewal and is extended to a teacher who qualifies for admission into the early childhood teaching ministry certification program. Evidence of satisfactory progress toward certification is required for renewal.
F. Satisfactory Progress Completing three credits of coursework per calendar year.
Requirements for Certification
1. Eligibility for Entrance
This certification program shall be open to persons who
- currently hold a call to a congregation, or
- have an associate degree, baccalaureate degree, or a state teaching license in early childhood education, and
- are in fellowship with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.
Graduates of schools other than Martin Luther College (Studies in Educational Ministry) and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary who wish to become certified shall have the requisite academic training and shall meet the certification requirements outlined below. The courses shall be determined by the director of teaching ministry certification. Substitution of courses requires prior approval. Graduates from other colleges are required to complete a minimum of three credits of coursework through MLC. These three credits could be taken on the MLC campus, at off-campus sites, or online.
- Religion 9 semester credits in the following prescribed courses or approved substitutes
- THE1001 Biblical History & Lit I 3 cr
- THE1002 Biblical History & Lit II 3 cr
- THE3001 Christian Doctrine I 3 cr
- THE3002 Christian Doctrine II 3 cr
- Christian Education 9 semester credits in the following prescribed courses and a professional experience in a WELS school.
- EDU3116 Teaching Religion in Early Childhood 2 cr (Includes Infant & Toddler)
- THE8112 The Role of Early Childhood Education in Mission Outreach 1 cr
- EDU9109 Bible Story Telling in Early Childhood 1 cr
- MUS8101 Music and Worship in Early Childhood Education 1 cr
- EDU8103 Developing Home and School Relationships 1 cr
- EDU8114 Roles & Responsibilities of the Lutheran Early Childhood Educator 1 cr
- Group Two
- EDU8113 Assessment of Young Children 2crs
- EDU8102 Operation & Management of Early Childhood Education Programs 1cr
- EDU8108 Preprimary Curriculum Essentials I 1cr
- EDU8109 Preprimary Curriculum Essentials II 1cr
- PED8101 Physical & Motor Development for Preprimary 1 cr
- EDU8101 Intellectual, Social, Emotional Development 1 cr
- EDU8112 Health & Safety in Early Childhood Centers 1 cr
- EDU8105 Encouraging Literacy Development 1 cr
- EDU8106 Play & Learning Experiences 1 cr
- Professional Experience A five-week experience in a WELS early childhood school to be arranged on an individual basis. This experience should be pre-approved by the director of teaching ministry certification. It may take place in the teacher’s own classroom.
Congregations are encouraged to assume the cost of credits for certification of their teachers.
Procedures for Obtaining Certified Status
1. Enrollment into the Program
- Application for admission into the program shall be made to the teaching ministry certification office, which shall be responsible for acceptance of applicants into the program.
- Applicants must submit an official transcript of credits earned at colleges other than MLC.
- Applicants who are presently teaching must submit a recent teaching evaluation from their supervisor of instruction. Applicants just graduating from college should submit a copy of their student teaching experience.
- Applicants must submit a testimonial of good moral character signed by their pastor.
2. Pursuing the Program
- Courses for certification credit may be taken through MLC’s summer session, satellite, and online courses.
- Certification coursework must be completed within six years after acceptance into the program.
- Those who are currently called will maintain their provisional certification by completing a minimum of three credits of coursework per year. Failure to make progress within a 2-year period will result in removal of the applicant from the teaching ministry certification program.
- Neither acceptance into the certification program nor successful completion of the requirements assures one of a call as an early childhood teacher. The credentials of all such persons are given to those WELS officials who are responsible for providing congregations with lists of qualified candidates from which to call or hire a teacher for an existing vacancy.
- Early childhood teachers who receive ministry certification are not eligible for a call to teach in WELS elementary or secondary classrooms regardless of their professional qualifications. They must meet the additional certification requirements for the K-16 certification to qualify for calls in those classrooms.
3. Eligibility for Certification
- A minimum grade point average of 2.00 for the three Bible courses THE1001, THE1002, and THE2001).
- A minimum grade point average of 2.00 for the two doctrine courses (THE3001 and THE3002).
- Upon an enrollee’s successful completion of this program, a recommendation for certification shall be made by MLC to the COP. If an enrollee is serving with a provisional call at the time of completion, the enrollee’s pastor and principal must concur with the recommendation; in other cases, the enrollee’s pastor must concur.
Responsibility for Certification
The COP shall act on all recommendations for certification and shall notify all concerned of its decisions.