Rutledge Institute

Rutledge Institute

Karen and Tom Rutledge Institute for Early Childhood Education

Take the lead in early childhood education. Become a Rutledge Institute Scholar.

Applications for Fall 2023 are currently closed. This webpage will be updated when applications reopen.

Academically qualified students are encouraged to apply to the Karen and Tom Rutledge Institute for Early Childhood Education, a center for educational excellence based at PennWest California.

The Rutledge Institute provides:

  • High-quality preschool education for children ages 3-5. The institute’s on-campus education center is staffed by teachers from The Village, a state- and nationally accredited preschool based in downtown California, Pa.
  • Exceptional learning opportunities for selected students enrolled as Rutledge Institute Scholars in PennWest California’s bachelor’s degree program in Pre-K to Grade 4 Education. Students gain valuable experience as they work with children under the direction of PennWest California faculty and The Village teachers.
  • An innovative preschool curriculum that focuses on learning experiences in science, technology, reading, engineering, arts and math (STREAM), with an emphasis on emerging literacy in an information age.

Who are the Rutledge Institute Scholars?

Rutledge Institute Scholars are academically strong undergraduate students, with the disposition required for success in early childhood education. They are motivated to excel, and they have a passion for teaching young children. Rutledge Scholars support one another as peer mentors and collaborate as future leaders in the profession.

Just 10 highly qualified students are selected for the program each year, based on a rigorous set of academic and nonacademic qualifications. 

Successful applicants enter the program as first-year students and continue through graduation, with the goal of earning a Bachelor of Science in Education (B.S.Ed.) in Grades PreK-4 Education, plus Pennsylvania teaching certification and the Integrative STEM Education Endorsement, in four years.

As a Rutledge Institute Scholar at PennWest California, you will:

  • Gain teaching experience. With faculty guidance, you’ll work alongside teachers from The Village at the on-campus preschool program. You’ll also develop teaching skills through fieldwork in the University’s network of Professional Development Schools.
  • Build a community: From Day One, you’ll be part of a residential learning community composed of your fellow Rutledge Institute Scholars. A structured peer-mentoring and leadership development program pairs upperclassmen with underclassmen to collaborate, co-teach and study together.
  • Stay on the leading edge: You’ll supplement your classroom studies and fieldwork with an annual summer workshop, where you’ll explore innovations in teaching and learning.

Each Rutledge Institute Scholar receives an annual scholarship that covers the cost of tuition, academic fees and on-campus housing, so long as he/she continues to meet program requirements.

Students pay for their own meal plan, parking fee and books.

Early Childhood Education Center

The Rutledge Institute Early Education Center serves local families by providing free, state-of-the-art early childhood care and education. The Institute is operated by The Village and its teachers, assisted by Rutledge Institute Scholars who are studying Early Childhood Education at PennWest California. 

Students learn within an innovative curriculum that focuses on STREAM: science, technology, reading, engineering, arts, and math, as well as literacy in this emerging information age. 

Learn more about The Village

Rutledge Institue Scholar Requirements and Application


What is required to become a Rutledge Institute Scholar? 

Applicants must meet PennWest California’s admissions standards, as well as the academic requirements, nonacademic professional disposition requirements, and all entry-level requirements for Pennsylvania teaching certification. 

Candidates will be selected based on these initial pre-screening criteria:

  • High school grade-point average of 3.5 or higher.
  • Resume
  • Written essay. (A specific prompt will be provided.)
  • Letters of recommendation from three non-relatives (e.g., employer, teacher, guidance counselor, etc.) who have professional interactions with the applicant.
  • Applicant’s interview performance.
How to Apply

How to Apply

To be considered for candidacy in the Rutledge Institute, applicants must meet the following initial admissions criteria: 

  • Apply to PennWest California through Admissions and be accepted to the University
  • Be an incoming freshman
  • Major in Education Grades PreK-4 
  • Have a minimum high school GPA of 3.5
  • Demonstrate work experience, service, leadership, extracurricular and/or accomplishments throughout high school career

If you meet the criteria described above, CONGRATULATIONS!  

Here are your next steps once you have applied and have been accepted to PennWest California:

  1. Please complete the Rutledge Institute for Early Childhood Education Application
  2. Email the application along with the following required documents to the scholarship program coordinator at by November 15th. Candidates who meet this deadline will receive first consideration for the upcoming fall semester. The required documents include:
  • Application Form
  • Your high school transcript
  • Resume
  •  Three letters of recommendation via electronic form (See instructions below on how to submit the letters.)
  • Send this Microsoft Form link to those who have agreed to recommend you:
  • Once they click this link, they will complete the form and submit the finished product directly to us. The form includes a survey of candidate attributes as well as a field for writing the recommendation letter.

Please scan and upload all application documents into one single PDF file and email them to If you need assistance with scanning and uploading, please see the instructions below.

  • IPhone/iPad users
    • Go to notes
    • Create a new note
    • Press the + button at the bottom
    • Press “Scan Documents”
    • Scan all of your documents, in order, into one single PDF file
    • Email it as an attachment to your own email, review it to ensure it turned out well, then attach it to your application email
    • Rename the PDF file as follows: Your Last Name and First Name, Fall [Year] RI Application
  • Other scanning methods
    • Make sure you put your paperwork in order
    • Scan into one single PDF file.
    • Email it as an attachment to your own email, review it to ensure it turned out well, then attach it to your application email
    • Rename the PDF file as follows: Your Last Name and First Name, Fall [Year] RI Application

After review of your application, you will be informed of your candidacy and the next steps in the process, which will include a writing sample and an interview. 

Download the application process checklist

Contact Us

Download an Application

For more information about the Rutledge Institute Scholars program, email Dr. Rebecca Maddas, coordinator of the Rutledge Institute for Early Childhood Education, at, or phone 724-938-4494 or 724-938-4135.

Learn more about Karen and Tom Rutledge.

In the News

View news stories about the Rutledge Insititute.