Mount honors education students, alumni

May 26, 2017

A few days before Mount Saint Mary College’s 54th annual Commencement ceremony, the Division of Education celebrated the many accomplishments of the graduating teacher candidates, as well as the illustrious alumni who have come before them.

Four students were recognized for their excellence in education:

  • The Dr. Lucy DiPaola Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Lauren Skinner of Gardiner, N.Y.
  • The Sister Mary Consilia O’Brien Award for excellence in special education was presented to Kelley Raich of Stormville, N.Y.
  • The James Pratt Award for excellence in secondary education was presented to Christina Antico of Smithtown, N.Y.
  • The Sister M. Thomasina Award was presented to Olivia Proulx of Unionville, Conn.

RIGHT: Mount Saint Mary College’s rigorous education program has produced two New York State Teachers of the Year in the last decade: Debra Calvino ‘81 (2010, left) and Dana McDonough ‘91, MSEd ’00 (2016, right).

Rebecca Quackenbush ’05, MSEd ’08, a teacher at Chester Elementary School, was one of two keynote speakers. She encouraged the future teachers to foster a sense of wonder in their students.

“My two top goals each and every year are to instill in my students a sense of awareness and acknowledgement of others, as well as to awaken the seeds of curiosity that are so naturally a part of what makes us human beings,” she said, noting that these were some of the core values bestowed upon her during her Mount education.

The second keynote speaker, Janaina Middleton MSEd ’13, discussed her experiences as a special education teacher at Newburgh Free Academy. She said that most of the time, unfocused students just need a little push in the right direction.

“As long as you treat students with the respect they all deserve and keep them challenged, they will show you amazing things,” Middleton said.

She added that going to the Mount was “the best decision I ever made. It was here I learned to come out of my comfort zone, and it was here that I created some of the best relationships of my life with my professors.”

The program also honored Debra Calvino ’81 and Dana McDonough ‘91, MSEd ’00, respectively the 2010 and 2016 New York State Teacher of the Year.

“Being a teacher is more than a great job, it’s a special calling,” said McDonough. “You are choosing a career that will position you to make great changes.”

McDonough is a second grade teacher at Fostertown Magnet School in the Newburgh City School District, where she has served for more than two decades.

Calvino taught mathematics for 33 years in the Valley Central School District before transitioning to the school’s director of curriculum, instruction, and testing about three years ago.

According to Calvino, excelling as an educator requires varied teaching techniques, learning the students’ strengths, and improving their weaknesses.

“A great teacher is student centered and focused,” she explained.

The Mount’s nationally accredited education program embeds fieldwork in coursework beginning in sophomore year, and earns high marks in preparing students for New York State licensure.

The college recently announced a new addition to its Childhood Education Grades 1-6 program: dual certification for teaching birth to grade 2. Teacher candidates who choose to take the program will earn an extension certification that permits them, upon completion, to teach in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classrooms.