Prepared to Teach
Marist’s involvement with an innovative program builds partnership to enhance the experience of teacher candidates.
April 5, 2019—Marist’s Education Department prides itself on providing in-classroom experiences for its teacher candidates. A new initiative with the renowned Bank Street College of Education, Prepared to Teach, has allowed the College to take that to a higher level.
Partnering with Dutchess BOCES Salt Point Center and Violet Avenue Elementary School in the Hyde Park School District, Marist is holding education classes at these schools to create a seamless way for the College’s teacher candidates (undergraduates studying education) to work in area schools as part of their training and development.
(L to R) Dylan O'Brien, student; Dr. Katherine Trela, Associate Professor; Melissa Murphy, Principal of Dutchess BOCES Salt Point Center; Cora Stempel, Deputy Superintendent of Dutchess BOCES; Michelle Burke, student; Dr. Edward Sullivan, Associate Dean of Teacher Education; and Dr. Wendy Gladstone-Brown, Assistant Professor
“Field experience has always been part of how we educate our teacher candidates,” said Katherine Trela, Associate Professor of Special Education. “But sending students out to schools alone does not feature the integrated, coordinated efficacy of structured partnerships between the College and the schools. Marist recognizes that forming these relationships is a vital part of teacher education.”
Education Department faculty hold methods courses in one of the district’s school buildings “and then our teacher candidates go directly from the college class into ‘real’ classrooms for course-related fieldwork,” Trela explained. In this way course work is directly linked to clinical work. Trela noted this arrangement really builds bonds between the College faculty, teacher candidates, and the classroom teachers, and school administrators.
That’s exactly what Prepared to Teach is aiming for. Prepared to Teach works on developing sustainably funded teacher residencies across the nation. The most important first step towards the kind of integrated teacher preparation system we envision is what Marist has committed to: Deep partnerships around clinical practice. Through a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York, Bank Street is able to work with four colleges in New York State, helping them to build relationships with their local school districts to put would-be teachers and professors in schools. “Our goal is help colleges work collaboratively with school districts,” said Brigid Fallon, Program Analyst for Prepared to Teach at Bank Street. “Tight links between teacher preparation and district needs create better opportunities.”
The other colleges Bank Street is working with are Adelphi University, College of Staten Island, and SUNY Oswego. Marist became involved in 2018.
(L to R) Dr. Edward Sullivan, Associate Dean of Teacher Education; Ms. Aviva Kafka, Deputy Superintendent, Hyde Park Central School District; Dr. Jane Bean-Folkes, Assistant Professor; Janice Alcantara, student; Jessica Grubman, student; Deanna Gonzalez, Principal of Violet Avenue School
‘A Strong, Shared Vision’
Fallon explained that Bank Street’s role is to identify tactics that have been successful in these college-school district partnerships and to assist the colleges in finding their own way in their communities. “Lengthening clinical experiences for education students and putting them through more hands-on experiences is really important, but it works best when it’s homegrown,” said Fallon. “And it pays off. Marist faculty and their district partners have a strong, shared vision.”
Research shows that mentoring early on can make all the difference for new teachers, so these partnerships are an investment in keeping teachers in the profession.
Both Dutchess BOCES Salt Point Center and Violet Avenue Elementary School were honored for their commitment to this partnership at a recent reception at Marist’s Cornell Boathouse. Designated as “Professional Development Schools.” Associate Dean for Teacher Education Edward Sullivan presented the principals from each school with banners and thanked them for their partnership with Marist. “We value our partnership with these schools,” said Sullivan. “Our students benefit from authentic, clinical experiences within these schools and other regional schools that welcome them. These field experiences ultimately make them more effective teachers.”