- by Mount Saint Mary College
Shirley Cordova of Newburgh, N.Y., an Education student at Mount Saint Mary College, inspires fifth grade students during her Spring 2023 student teaching placement at Nora Cronin Presentation Academy.

For Shirley Cordova of Newburgh, N.Y., a Mount Saint Mary College Hispanic Studies major on the Education track, the path to her future led her back to the school she loved in her younger years.

Cordova, who will graduate this May, completed her student teaching placement at Nora Cronin Presentation Academy in Newburgh during her final semester at the Mount. She taught English Language Arts and Social Studies for grades 5 and 6.

“This time I’m doing the teaching instead of sitting at a desk and doing the learning,” Cordova said. “I cannot believe it has been eight years since I graduated from Nora Cronin and being able to do my student teaching experience here has been nothing but amazing! Thank you to my Nora Cronin family for welcoming me back into a place that I will always hold dear in my heart.”

To say that things have come full circle would be an understatement. Not only did Cordova return to her middle school as a teacher candidate, but it was via the Mount’s “Lighting the Way” scholarship for students of Nora Cronin Presentation Academy and San Miguel Academy that Cordova was able to make her college dreams come true. 

One of the most rewarding aspects of the student teaching placement was getting to know her students, Cordova explained.

“I have created so many bonds with the students that I hope to carry on with me,” she said. “They have opened up their classrooms to me and have allowed me to practice what I love doing in the very same environment that I used to sit in as a student myself.”

Cordova’s cooperating teacher at Nora Cronin, Julia Pickles, is also a graduate of the Mount, having earned a Master of Science in Education, Childhood, and Special Education in 2014. Pickles, Cordova said, “has allowed me to fully dive into the world of education by letting her classroom become my classroom. Julia was never afraid to give me opportunities to spread my wings in my student teaching journey and she has always given me tips to improve my teaching skills.”

In addition to her student teaching experiences, Cordova credits the Mount’s rigorous Education program with helping to mold her into the successful educator she is today.

“The Mount has prepared me very well [and] set me up for success throughout my new student teaching journey,” she noted. “The Mount has taught me so much on how to create detailed lesson plans to ensure I encompass all the information I need to set up my students for success.”

Cordova credits Sonya Abbye Taylor, associate professor of Education and division chair, for much of her success. When Cordova decided to start the Education track, Taylor became her advisor. Taylor suggested that she add a special education extension to her studies, something Cordova hadn’t really considered up to that point.

“Once I was in the special education classes [Taylor] taught, I immediately changed my mind,” Cordova explained. “I learned so much more about special education and had opportunities to work with children with disabilities. Being more marketable is not what is important to me; it’s the impact I have on these students’ lives that really matters.”

She added, “If it were not for her motivating me and planting this thought into my head, then I would not be here today doing what I love. Thank you, Dr. Taylor, for pushing me to always do my best and motivating me to get out of my comfort zone.”

Come say hello...

Let us show you around