Making the Grade - Division of Education

Mount graduate teaches at Peekskill Middle SchoolMount Saint Mary College teacher-candidates begin their journey with an interest in the education field and graduate having found one of their greatest joys. In between, the dedicated professors of the Mount’s Division of Education help to mold their students into the highly qualified and versatile teachers of tomorrow.

Inspiring the next generation

Graduates from the Mount’s Division of Education set out to change the world, one student at a time. From preschool to senior high, Mount-educated teachers are making a difference in their students’ lives every day.

Mount teachers can be found at the helm of classrooms throughout the United States. Many are leaders in their districts, including Courtney Duffy ’03, data specialist and curriculum developer for the New York City Department of Education; Anthony White ’98 MSEd’04, director of pupil personnel at Wallkill Central School District; and Danny Dottin ’95 MSEd’02, principal of Balmville Elementary School in Newburgh, N.Y.

Education student teaches children in South Africa.And Mount education alumni aren’t just making an impact at home – they can be found in classrooms throughout the world.

Mary Bocskocsky ’15, currently a third-grade teacher in a poverty-stricken area of Texas, has had a variety of teaching experiences: she previously taught first grade at a school in Florida and also volunteered as a math and literacy teacher at the Ikhaya le Themba (Home of Hope) shelter in Cape Town, South Africa in 2015.

Above: Mount graduate Mary Bocskocsky '15 volunteered her skills as an educator in South Africa.

“While I was teaching in South Africa, I saw how much I had gained from the Mount’s education program,” she explained. “Without my Mount classes, I wouldn’t have been able to do this…The Mount really prepares you for all different kinds of learning environments.”

Teaching other teachers

Dana McDonough, Mount graduate, works with students at Fostertown Elementary School.Mount Division of Education grads aren’t just inspiring their students: they’re also held in high regard by other educators. For example, two Mount alumni in the past decade have had the honor of being named New York State Teacher of the Year: Debra Calvino ’81 in 2010 and Dana McDonough ’91 MSEd ’00 in 2016.

McDonough knew about the Mount’s reputation for teacher education for a long time – her aunt was one of the first graduates of Mount Saint Mary College in 1964.

Right; Dana McDonough '91 MSEd '00, New York State Teacher of the Year 2016, works with students in her classroom at Fostertown Elementary School in Newburgh, N.Y.

“The Mount’s high quality instruction empowered me to enter the education profession with the knowledge and belief that I could make a difference,” McDonough reflected.

Corri Nicoletti ’10 MSEd ’15 found a unique application for her degree: she’s an educational technology specialist at Marist College, where she works with faculty to effectively integrate technology into the college’s on-campus and online classrooms.

Thanks to the Mount’s education program, which requires students to also select a specialization area in addition to their teacher training, Nicoletti’s major in Information Technology allows her to teach other educators on the use of technology in their classroom.

“I realized my degree and skillset was so malleable in my future career,” she said. “I might not be teaching elementary kids right now, but I find myself teaching someone each and every day and it is just as gratifying.”

Nicoletti also puts her degree to use by teachnig technology classes at the Mount’s Desmond Campus for Adult Enrichment and as an adjunct technology professor at Marist.

From the beginning

Mount students teach an after school literacy lesson to students at the Newburgh Ministry.

The Mount's Kappa Delta Pi honor society organizes an afterschool literacy program for underserved youth in Newburgh.

Mount education students don’t have to wait to make a difference – the college’s pre-teachers are constantly giving back to the community, using their teaching expertise to provide educational opportunities for local youth outside the classroom.

The Mount’s education honor society, Kappa Delta Pi, spearheaded a literacy program for at-risk youth at the Newburgh Ministry, a charitable organization assisting the city’s underserved populations. The program, “Exploring World of Words,” is a weekly after-school group that seeks to inspire a love for reading and knowledge, while inciting interest in college education.

Mount graduate student Veronica Malloy helped create the program during her senior year as an undergraduate.

“I think it’s awesome that we get to nurture literacy in the kids like this,” said Malloy. “This is also really great practice [for teacher candidates].”

Undergraduate and graduate education students also provide weekly literacy programming at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center through the Mount’s Collaborative for Equity in Literacy Learning (CELL), which offers tutoring and out-of-school literacy activities for children pre-school to grade 12.

It was just such a volunteer experience at the Newburgh Armory that helped one future educator find her calling.

In her freshman year, Megan Atwood ’18 decided to accompany her roommate to a literacy event at the Newburgh Armory. She was so inspired by the volunteer experience that she changed her major to education.

Teacher candidates aren’t just educating these young students – the students are also teaching them. “Fieldwork is my favorite part about education classes,” Atwood said. “I can get a hands-on experience and you learn from the students every day. They touch your life.”

Students hold up homemade books.

As part of a graduate-level course, teacher candidates assist students at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center in writing and illustrating their own books, which are then presented to family, friends, and benefactors.

The Mount’s legacy

Mount education students become well-rounded educators from the moment they arrive on campus as freshmen. Beginning in their second semester at the Mount, teacher candidates engage in fieldwork opportunities in local classrooms. On campus, these students have access to children’s books and other educational materials in the Kaplan Family Library and Learning Center, and the Bishop Dunn Memorial School, an on-campus K-8 school that provides easy access to fieldwork and tutoring opportunities.

New programs within the division allow students to hone their skills in high-need areas of the industry. Along with the standard offerings of childhood and adolescent education certification and special education and middle school extensions, the college now offers a birth-Grade 2 extension certification. And accelerated programs for adolescent education put Mount students into classrooms with a combined bachelor’s and a master’s degree in just five years.

Mount professor works with a student at the Newburgh Armory.All of these resources and opportunities make Mount students highly-sought after teacher candidates. Janine Bixler, professor of Education and chair of the Division of Education, sees this firsthand through numerous employment opportunities for Mount students.

“We often get phone calls from area districts when they have an open teaching position because they know how well prepared our graduates are,” she explained.

Above: Mount Professor of Education Janine Bixler works closely with students at the Newburgh Armory Unity Center.

The most valuable resource that education students receive, however, is guidance and instruction from professors who share in students’ love for teaching.

“Our division attracts a student that is passionate, driven, and excited to impact the world, and to be a part of that journey is incredible for me,” noted Monica Merritt, associate professor of Education and graduate program coordinator. “I feel blessed to be able to be a part of it.”

The future of education

You can be a part of the future of education. Join the Mount’s teacher education program by contacting the Mount’s Admissions Office at admissions@msmc.edu or
1-888-YES-MSMC. 

Mount students work with students at Bishop Dunn School.