NEWS

Stepping back in time

Mount teacher candidates, San Miguel students study Newburgh’s colonial past
November 14, 2017
NEWBURGH, N.Y. -

Mount Saint Mary College teacher candidates Mark Sanchez-Potter of Newburgh, N.Y. and Samantha McGregor of Highland Mills, N.Y. led more than a dozen students from San Miguel Academy in a hands-on history project.

Mount Saint Mary College teacher candidates Mark Sanchez-Potter of Newburgh, N.Y. and Samantha McGregor of Highland Mills, N.Y. led more than a dozen students from San Miguel Academy in a hands-on history project.

 

History sprung to life for the sixth grade students of San Miguel Academy when teacher candidates from Mount Saint Mary College led them on a journey through Newburgh’s rich past. 

Mark Sanchez-Potter of Newburgh, N.Y. and Samantha McGregor of Highland Mills, N.Y. oversaw the young students as they examined the lives of Newburgh residents who lived during the colonial period. The project included visits to George Washington’s Headquarters, the old Newburgh Court House, and the David Crawford House, as well as talks with former Newburgh Mayor Nick Valentine and City Historian Mary McTamaney.

“The project gave the students a sense of their own history and how their town became a vital component of the development of our country,” explained McGregor. “The students were able to use a hands-on approach to examine and research changes and developments a city experiences over time.”

The students put themselves in the shoes of 18th century Newburgh residents and, with the historical sites as a reference, they wrote short stories about life in the ever-changing city on the Hudson. Others discussed how Newburgh has changed over the last 300 years. The stories and photos were compiled into a dozen page booklet titled A Glance into Old and New Newburgh.

“I am George Washington, and I am the general of the Continental Army,” wrote one student. “I wanted my house close to the Hudson River so I could tell if the British were coming.” 

Other students discussed present times: “New Newburgh is a city everywhere. There are so many people and stores. We use cars and trucks [but] cars make so much noise, just like cattle did in old Newburgh.” 
 
The project is part of the Mount’s Teach the Change program, a comprehensive initiative of the college’s Division of Education. Teach the Change is coordinated in conjunction with the Center for Adolescent Research and Development (CARD), under the leadership of Frances Spielhagen, Mount education professor.

The initiative aims to strengthen the teaching profession by creating a pipeline of teacher candidates from area high schools, especially first-generation college students and those who may be underrepresented in the teaching profession, as well as enhancing the current teaching force by providing leadership training for area educators. 

Old and New Newburgh “involved extra, independent, and voluntary fieldwork through my social studies methods class,” explained Spielhagen. She added that thanks to Sanchez-Potter and McGregor’s hard work and input from the class’s teacher, Crystal Paul, the venture was a “well-constructed project-based learning experience” for the students of San Miguel. 

The project was made possible by a gift from 2016 Mount commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient Timothy P. Flanigan, MD, professor of Medicine and Health Services, Policy and Practices in the Alpert Medical College at Brown University. 

Plans to continue and expand the Old and New Newburgh project for a new group of San Miguel students are already underway. 

In addition to Old and New Newburgh, Mount Saint Mary College’s Lighting the Way Scholarship Program benefits graduates of San Miguel Academy and its sister school, Nora Cronin Presentation Academy, who wish to pursue a four-year college education at the Mount. Based on financial need, it is awarded annually, with the possibility of renewal based on academic performance.