Peterson Hall circa 1910

Photos courtesy of SPU Photo Archives

FOR 100 YEARS, the School of Education has been an integral part of Seattle Pacific’s vision to prepare future educators to serve others throughout the region and around the world. From its humble beginnings in 1921, Seattle Pacific’s teacher training program quickly gained accreditation and became known for the quality of its educators.

This year, we celebrate the school’s centennial year with a look at significant milestones and some of the people who are carrying forward the School of Education’s legacy.

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Journey with us from the past to the present, touching on the milestones of Seattle Pacific’s School of Education. 


Seattle Pacific’s Normal School, as the teacher training college was called then, is first organized and directed by Candis Nelson who leads the school for the next 19 years. 


The Normal Department receives formal accreditation from the Washington State Board of Education. 


Seattle Pacific’s Normal School is the only teaching program in Seattle fully accredited by the State Department of Education. It graduates 26 teachers in the Class of 1930. 


The Washington State Board of Education authorizes Seattle Pacific College to award “life diplomas,” which requires 27 months of successful teaching. The state changes the degree requirements from a two-year program to a three-year program. 


SPC’s summer session includes a Children’s Activity School, which allows student teachers the opportunity to practice teaching for credit with an emphasis on constructive play as a learning technique. 


The Training School Building (later Adelaide Hall) is remodeled and enlarged, providing more classroom and office space for the teachers and over 70 elementary students enrolled in the school. 


The school expands its student teaching opportunities to six large grade schools in King County, assigning eight cadet teachers to do off-site practice teaching. 


In 1940, there are 27 graduates of a three-year curriculum, and 41 graduates of a four-year curriculum. 


Washington requires teaching students to complete a four-year course to earn a bachelor’s degree. 


As student enrollment starts to swell at Seattle Pacific College, the Training School/Nelson Elementary School on campus is discontinued to free up space for other uses. Student teachers now practice teaching in public schools in and near Seattle. 


The Future Teachers of America recognizes SPC’s School of Education as its “Outstanding Institution” for 1948-49. Eta Pi Alpha — SPC’s chapter of the Future Teachers of America — is the first chapter west of the Mississippi to be honored with this award. 


The school begins offering certification for school administrators. 


SPC adjusts its teacher certification program to include a fifth year in compliance with Washington’s State Board of Education requirements. 


The first master of education degree is awarded. 

Illustrations by Valentin Tkach


Education degree requirements increase from 186 credits to 192 credits, with more emphasis on education majors focusing on an area of expertise and a grade level. 


Seattle Pacific starts its School Counseling Program. 


The School of Education partners with the Art Department and instructor Larry Metcalf to offer Saturday morning art classes for children, giving student teachers experience. 


The Center for Professional Education (CPE) is established to provide continuing education for all educators. 


Seattle Pacific officially names the School of Education in recognition of the increasing number of programs being offered and students served in the school. 


Seattle Pacific Instruction Reaching All Learners (SPIRAL), is a continuing education program for teachers in Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. 


U.S. Office of Education funds a fellowship program at SPU to train bilingual students in the School of Education. 


SPU begins its Cooperative Education program, an internship program that includes its School of Education students. The internship program helps to facilitate full-time job placements. 


SPU’s education program is one of the most successful in the Northwest, with graduates consistently finding employment in education. More than 80% of the graduating class of 1984 secure jobs in education. 


The School of Education moves from the lower level of Marston Hall to Peterson Hall, where it resides today. 


The school introduces its doctoral degree program (EdD) at the request of school superintendents in the region. 


The Center for Global Curriculum Studies is introduced, making possible international connections through travel, writing, and research for School of Education faculty and graduate students. 


SPU establishes an online program to earn a master’s degree in education. 


Peterson Hall reaches 100 years of service as a central building on the SPU campus. 


The School of Education offers a master’s degree in literacy. (Today, it’s a master’s in literacy, language, and equity.) 


The School of Education offers a PhD in Education. 


The School of Education is the first in the state to offer a master’s degree in teaching math and science (MTMS), a teacher training program designed to produce strong elementary and high school teachers in these disciplines. 


The Washington School Counselor Association gives three of its eight annual awards to Seattle Pacific, honoring Professor of Education Chris Sink; Instructor of Counselor Education Richard Cleveland; and graduate student Kaley Mitchell. 


SPU introduces online graduate programs including its Digital Education Leadership MEd; the Accelerated Master of Arts in Teaching Online; the Accelerated Master’s of Teaching Math and Science Online; and the two-year Master of Arts in Teaching Online. 


The school creates its certificate-only program. The Alternative Routes to Certification uses a blend of master’s and professional development coursework for its residency teacher certificate. 


The School of Education hosts the international Janus Korczak Conference on the topic of Education for Excellence, Diversity, and Respect as a joint event with the Janusz Korczak Association of the USA. 


The School of Education receives a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts to host the NEA Big Read in King County, Washington. 


The school introduces a new major in early childhood education. 


Today, Seattle Pacific offers seven different routes to teacher certification and/or a master’s degree, and the school’s Accelerated Master’s in Teaching Math and Science is one of the only programs in the state for secondary STEM educators. 

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