Marist’s Education Department is Investing in the Future

Elisabeth Tavarez

July 9, 2019—Marist’s Education Department is well known for preparing students to become effective teachers and leaders in their schools and communities. Its programs emphasize the role of research and technology and the importance of critical thinking, creative problem solving, and multicultural and global perspectives. Consistent with Marist’s commitment to being actively engaged in the community, the Department recently hosted two groups of local schoolchildren in an effort to advance two worthy goals: exposing students from underrepresented groups to a college campus and encouraging them to consider teaching as a career.

On May 20, Marist welcomed a group of 20 English as a New Language (ENL) students in the third, fourth, and fifth grades at Balmville Elementary School, a public school in the Newburgh Enlarged City School District. The visit, the third in three years for students from Balmville, stems from the work of Professional Lecturer of Education Christina Wright Fields to promote the ideas of pursuing a college education and becoming a teacher. During their half-day visit to the College, the students toured the Marist campus, ate lunch, and participated in a session led by Fields and Assistant Professor of Education Mary Kelly in which they developed a storyboard from children’s literature; in past years, these faculty-led sessions have included tree identification and STEM educational hands-on activities. Notes Associate Dean for Teacher Education Edward Sullivan, “Essentially, we like to expose the Balmville grade-schoolers to various academic departments on campus to expand their knowledge base and present them with different educational possibilities. We also involve Marist education students in these visits to help the schoolchildren visualize themselves as future college students engaged in helping others to learn.”

Marist faculty and staff welcome Beacon LEAD Scholars. Standing from left to right: Julio Torres, Edward Sullivan, Mary Kelly, Christina Wright Fields

Marist faculty and staff welcome Beacon LEAD Scholars. Standing from left to right: Julio A. Torres, Edward Sullivan, Mary Kelly, Christina Wright Fields

In addition to the partnership with Balmville Elementary School, the Education Department has also worked for the past four years with the Beacon City School District on the Beacon Learn, Educate, Aspire, and Diversify (LEAD) Scholars Program. This program was developed to encourage high-schoolers from underrepresented groups to enter college and, hopefully, pursue teacher education. It started under the title of “Grow Your Own” and was refined by both Fields and administrators from the Beacon City School District. The LEAD Scholar Program complements Marist’s ongoing participation in the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education’s Holmes Cadet Program, which aims to diversify the teacher pipeline. Holmes Cadet participants who meet the criteria for acceptance into Marist, complete Holmes participant requirements, and remain successfully enrolled receive tuition grants. In addition, the students receive support services, such as advising, to help them complete their college degrees. “As a faculty member with multiple marginalized identities, my cultural background and lived experiences are positive assets that inform my pedagogical, curricular, and mentoring approaches both within and outside of the classroom. Students come from diverse backgrounds, bringing a wealth of experiences and knowledge to the classroom, thus as educators, we must incorporate meaningful and innovative approaches to student engagement,” affirms Fields. 

On May 31, a group of Beacon LEAD Scholars came to campus for a half-day of presentations and activities. As with the Balmville student visit, this event also involved several local Marist education students who volunteered to assist with the day’s program and serve as role models for the young visitors. The Beacon students were greeted by Dean of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences Deborah Gatins and Julio A. Torres, Senior Assistant Director and Coordinator of Multicultural Enrollment in Marist’s Office of Admission. As Torres observes, “The intent is to motivate students to finish high school, enter college (preferably Marist College), and register for a teacher preparation program.” During their campus visit, the LEAD Scholars had the opportunity to give presentations on topics of their choice and hear an overview of Marist’s teacher education program from Sullivan.  This is the first year in which two seniors are completing the LEAD Scholars program and entering college, a success that will hopefully be repeated many times over in the coming years.

Associate Dean for Teacher Education Edward Sullivan speaking with a Beacon LEAD Scholar Associate Dean for Teacher Education Edward Sullivan speaking with a Beacon LEAD Scholar

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