Education Majors Forge the Path to Dual Teaching Certification

Adolescence and Special Education Certification Possible for Education Majors

As it currently stands, the Education Department at Marist College offers two programs in teacher preparation. Those programs are Psychology/Special Education and Certification in Adolescence Education. The Psychology/Special Education program results in certification for Childhood Education and Students with Disabilities, from grades 1-6. This allows them to be both an elementary and a special education teacher. Certification in Adolescence Education, grades 7-12, offers students a focus in one specific content area out of the choices available: Biology, Chemistry, English, French, History, Mathematics, or Spanish.

However, after this year, the education program saw new changes that allowed students being certified in adolescence education receive a dual certification in special education.

Traditionally, students in either of these programs are required to complete the necessary coursework, pass a series of state assessments and complete mandatory workshops that deal with bullying, harassment, child abuse, and violence in schools. From there, the Education Department can recommend the candidate for initial teaching certification. The education program at Marist is shaped to comply with New York State teaching regulations but candidates can be recommended to teach in any state following graduation.

Because Marist’s Education Department is currently not approved to offer a grades 7-12 special education certification program, teaching candidates are responsible for completing this on their own. That is why three students created their own individual pathway. With the help of their advisors and Dr. Edward Sullivan, Associate Dean of Teaching Education, they were able to get on the right track for receiving a special education certification. These three students are Anthony Zanin ’15, Jacqueline Shkreli ’16, and Alyssa Tripi ’17.

It started when Zanin approached Dr. Sullivan with an interest in special education. Zanin was in the process of being certified for History-Adolescence Education at the time. “I have known since I was little that I wanted to become a teacher,” Zanin explained. He felt that having dual certification in Social Studies and Special Education would not only make him a more marketable candidate in his job search but would also provide him with a greater background in educational practices to reach the students he would be seeing in his classroom.

Although Marist did not offer a dual certification program when Zanin began at Marist in 2011, he remained adamant about making it happen and reached out to Dr. Sullivan about making it a reality. “From the first moment I reached out to Dr. Sullivan about this proposition, he was eager and excited to help me through this endeavor,” Zanin continued.

The two of them worked out a plan for this to occur.

Zanin describes the process of making it happen as tedious and rigorous but also very rewarding. The two put a lot of time into examining state documents and contacting the State Education Department to ensure that the coursework would meet state qualifications. He had to take additional courses but had room in his schedule because he came in with college credits.

Zanin now works for the Hyde Park Central School District as a Leave Replacement Special Education Teacher at Haviland Middle School. He credits his dual certification for allowing him to find employment so quickly in such a competitive job market. “When I began my job search, having dual certification doubled (possibly even tripled) the number of jobs that I was eligible to apply for,” he said.

For Tripi, a Mathematics-Adolescence Education major, she wanted a way to still be a math major but also be able to teach it on another level. She contacted Dr. Jennifer Powers, the Director of Clinical Teacher Preparation at Marist and Tripi’s advisor. Powers connected Tripi with Dr. Sullivan who was ready to help her after his experience with Zanin. While Tripi does need to take some winter and summer classes, she will be able to graduate on time. Her goal now is to become a more marketable candidate and be able to teach inclusion classes.

“As I go through the process, it is really interesting and beneficial to get a new perspective of education,” Tripi said. “Not only am I learning how to cater to the educational needs of all students, but I am also learning about the elementary perspective of teaching, and that will certainly positively impact the way I approach teaching at the secondary level.”

Dr. Sullivan believes it is extremely important for teaching candidates to receive dual certification. “A hiring committee would find a candidate with a content area certification and a special education certificate very appealing for hiring,” he said. “Within recent years, most job postings at the secondary level are for those with special education certification.”

Going forward, Marist’s education program is currently weighing the possibility of beginning a Five Year BA/MAT program in Adolescence Education that will result in dual certification. If it is approved by the NY State Education Department, students will no longer have to use the individual pathway.

Written by Adriana Belmonte '17


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