A classroom of their own

Mount student teachers take next step
March 16, 2015


Stephanie Rivera’s love of teaching, and her students’ love of learning, lead to a very lively fourth grade classroom at Bishop Dunn Memorial School in Newburgh, N.Y.

Rivera, a Mount Saint Mary College mathematics major on the childhood education track, says her student teaching placement with cooperating educator Nancy Benfer is as beneficial to her as it is to her students.

Under Benfer’s tutelage, Rivera, of Poughquag, N.Y., refined her lesson creation technique, enhanced her utilization of Smartboards, and improved her behavior management skills.

“Mrs. Benfer showed me great ways to get the class to bring their attention back to the lesson,” Rivera explained, such as counting down from three to one in a firm voice, or standing in place and communicating with eye contact and body language only. “I was very lucky to have Mrs. Benfer as my first placement. I’ve learned so much from her.”

Benfer, 2004 Mount graduate, notes that “I’ve enjoyed working with Stephanie. It’s been an excellent experience for myself and for my students.”

Rivera is the third Mount student Benfer has mentored since the beginning of the academic year. “The Mount always prepares the student teachers very well,” she explained. “Each student teacher brings something new into the classroom, and I learn plenty of new things from them.”

Rivera revealed that the Mount’s education program “really prepared me for my student teaching.” She added that Rebecca Norman, assistant professor of education, was a major influence on her.

Norman “helped me so much with my language arts and how to plan lessons,” Rivera said.

Elsewhere in the college’s vast network of student teaching sites, Brian Kimbark of Pleasant Valley, N.Y., felt at home in his student teaching placement at Van Wyck Junior High School in Wappingers Falls, N.Y.

“I was a little nervous about teaching sixth grade,” said Kimbark, a history major on the childhood education track, “but this experience has been fantastic. I’m considering getting a middle school extension now.”


Brian Kimbark of Pleasant Valley, N.Y., an education student from Mount Saint Mary College, enjoys his student teaching experience at Van Wyck Junior High School in Wappingers Falls, N.Y. 

Though behavior management is a learned skill for many, in Kimbark’s case, it comes naturally. The teacher candidate is just as proficient at training students in multiplication as he is ancient Chinese dynasties, and though it all, the children remain focused and attentive.

“I’ve found that if you show your students the same respect you would want shown to you as a teacher, they will respect you right back,” he explained.

He added that his cooperating teacher, Linnette Correale, is “a great model for what I want to be doing in the class. It’s really helpful to have someone who understands what I’m going through.”

Had the Mount’s education program primed Kimbark for the classroom? Without a doubt, said Correale.

“He came in extremely prepared,” she explained. “Within the first week he was teaching classes. The kids love him. When he talks, they listen.”

The Mount is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, and The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. It is also registered by the New York State Education Department.