NEWS

Learning through adversity: How student teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic helped strengthen a Mount graduate

July 21, 2020
NEWBURGH, N.Y. -

For teacher candidates like Sarah Quade of Middletown, N.Y., a recent graduate of Mount Saint Mary College, adaptation is the name of the game.
 
Quade took the Mount’s five-year Education track and graduated with a bachelor’s in History last year, before earning a master’s degree in Education in May of 2020. Last semester marked her final student teaching experience.
 
She was teaching in a familiar locale: the Minisink Valley Central School District in Slate Hill, N.Y. Quade was pleased to be able to “pay it forward” to a new generation of students in the same place where she had earned her high school diploma five years earlier.
 
Her first placement was in an eighth grade Social Studies class with her cooperating teacher, Kathy Arns. The second placement was with high school juniors and seniors, where she worked with Edward Sucich teaching US History and Government. Sucich had been Quade's high school History teacher, lending another familiar face to her experiance. 
 
Quade was teaching in the high school when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
 
“It was definitely an adjustment,” she explained. “Suddenly I went from seeing my students every day to only communicating via email. I was sad to not see them, but I was relieved that everyone was safe at home.”
 
Instruction continued online, forcing Quade – and the rest of the country’s teachers – to adapt quickly. While COVID-19 created educational hardships, it also provided an opportunity for some very unique on-the-job training.
 
“My lessons changed from daily plans to weekly plans,” Quade said. “I started recording my lessons for students to watch at home and changed the teaching timeline overall.”
 
The experience left some lasting impressions on Quade and will influence her teaching style for the remainder of her career. For example, when planning her teaching strategies for the future, Quade will make sure that her lessons can be moved to an online format at a moment’s notice.
 
“I would be sure to have all instructional materials digitized, and update a virtual classroom with assignments, materials, notes, and other information as the class progressed,” she explained. “This would make a transition to online learning seamless and ensure that students had all the materials they needed online, if need be.”
 
Quade credited her courses at the Mount with helping to mold her into the professional she is today. She transferred to the Mount her junior year, and the college made the transition “gratifying and painless,” she said. The Mount “has given me so many opportunities and experiences in such a short timeframe. From studying abroad, to student teaching, to professional development, there was something new to learn and experience at every turn. My time here has given me priceless skills and an incredible network of support.”
 
Part of that support network were professors like Glenn Reynolds, associate professor of History; Frances Spielhagen, professor of Education, and David Gallagher, associate professor of Education. “Everyone in the History and Education departments have been so supportive and invaluable over the years,” Quade noted, added that her advisors at the college had been a great help to her as well.
 
In addition to a strong teaching foundation from the Mount, Quade was able to succeed in the face of adversity thanks to the aid of her cooperating teachers and other mentors at Minisink Valley.
 
“Everyone at Minisink was incredibly supportive and dedicated to not only the students, but to ensuring that I was able to complete my student teaching requirements,” she explained. “My cooperating teachers were always available to answer questions and provide support. The immersive, hands-on work that student teaching provides is one of the most valuable learning experiences that any teacher candidate will have. Being able to run a classroom and interact with students in person, and then virtually, made me incredibly adaptable and versatile in my teaching.”
 
The future is looking bright for Quade, who is planning on pursuing a doctorate in History before getting back to classroom. But as she looks towards the next steps in her career, Quade is also reflecting on what made her time at the Mount special. She was an NCAA scholar athlete on the swim team, was proud to make the college’s Dean’s List, and became a member of both the History honor society, Phi Alpha Theta, and the education honor society, Kappa Delta Pi. She was also a graduate assistant for the Mount’s Center on Adolescent Research and Development (CARD).
 
“I will miss not seeing some of the people who have so drastically impacted my life on a daily basis,” Quade explained. “Mount Saint Mary College gave me such an opportunity to grow as an athlete, a student, and as an individual.”