What is Elementary Education?

Elementary teachers have a unique opportunity to make a difference in their communities by laying the foundation for both future academic learning and for future participation in democratic society. By helping students learn how to learn, develop problem-solving capacities, cultivate stamina, and learn the value of practice, they set the stage for successful life-long learning. By introducing students to key understandings and inquiry processes of subject matter disciplines, they set the stage for deeper learning through subsequent schooling. By helping students learn to appreciate each other, value their differences, and collaborate successfully, they help build healthy, sustainable, globally interconnected communities for tomorrow.

Teaching Endorsements and Certification

To gain a Teaching Certificate all teacher candidates must complete a teacher preparation program. Woodring offers programs for Elementary, Secondary, and Special Education areas.

An endorsement is the subject area and grade level you are qualified to teach. For example, Elementary Education is an endorsement.

Students seeking a bachelor’s degree with teacher certification and an endorsement in elementary education must complete the GURs, an approved academic major, and the professional education course work. 

Endorsements available at Western

Early Childhood, Elementary, and Multilingual Education Degree(s)

Elementary Education Professional Program

Degree Type: Teaching Endorsement

The Department of Elementary Education offers professional education programs that lead to recommendation to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for residency certification in the state of Washington. Students must complete an approved academic major to accompany the professional preparation program in Elementary Education. 


Teacher Education Admission, Woodring College of Education
TeacherEd.Admission@wwu.edu | 360-650-6161

Language, Literacy, and Cultural Studies, BAE

Degree Type: Teaching Endorsement

The Language, Literacy, and Cultural Studies program responds to the growing diversity in Washington State’s schools and supports the Woodring College of Education’s efforts to embrace diversity and promote social justice. This major focuses on research-based and experience-validated knowledge to help elementary school teachers reach all students.


Elementary Education Department, Woodring College of Education
eled@wwu.edu | 360-650-3336

English Language Learner/Bilingual Endorsement Program

Degree Type: Teaching Endorsement

This program leads to an additional endorsement in English Language Learner and/or Bilingual Education when accompanied by a professional teacher education program and a first endorsement in another content area.


Elementary Education Department, Woodring College of Education
eled@wwu.edu | 360-650-3336

English Language Learners & Bilingual Education, BAE

Degree Type: Teaching Endorsement
Location: Renton

The Bachelor of Arts in Education: ELL and Bilingual Education major responds to the growing diversity in the state’s schools and the state’s growing focus on dual language education. Currently the major is only offered through Western’s Renton site.


Dr. Beth Dillard, Director Multilingual Education Community Programs - Renton / Assistant Professor
dillare@wwu.edu | 360-650-3314

Elementary Education at Western

Western's Elementary Education programs are designed to prepare thoughtful, knowledgeable, and effective educators for a diverse society. The elementary education degree curriculum is a carefully sequenced professional program that is firmly backed by current research on effective teaching and learning and is consistent with national and state standards for what teachers should know and be able to do.

The department offers courses and certification sequences on the Western campus and at off-campus sites in Everett, Seattle, and Kitsap County. Students interested in getting their certification at these locations are encouraged to visit the Teacher Education Outreach Programs webpage for further information.

Student Experiences


The Office of Field Experiences coordinates school-based student teaching internships for all teacher education candidates.

Student Washington Education Association (SWEA)

The student chapter of the Washington Education Association is devoted to bringing professional experience, development opportunities, and community outreach to pre-service teachers at Western Washington University and in Woodring College of Education.

Compass 2 Campus

Compass 2 Campus is a youth mentoring initiative that prepares college volunteers to work in elementary, middle, and high school classrooms with underrepresented, low-income, diverse students, to provide positive role models and encourage students to view some form of post-secondary education as achievable.

Wooding’s small class sizes, dedicated professors, and diverse curriculum made me a better educator, while the student-centered approach means I’ve had a real voice in my education.

Quinn Reno

Education student

What can you do with this major?

Graduates of the Elementary Education Professional Program are in high demand for teaching positions throughout Washington State. The strong reputation of the program makes its graduates highly regarded for a career in education, including elementary and middle school teaching positions. After teaching a few years, graduates often pursue graduate degrees in specialty areas such as literacy or math, sometimes in conjunction with earning National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification. 

Elementary Education careers

  • Elementary School Teacher
  • Middle School Teacher (with additional endorsements)