As classes come to an end and seniors ready themselves for the professional world, the students, faculty, and staff of Mount Saint Mary College are reflecting on what became a very unusual semester.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation’s schools and colleges transitioned to online learning – including the Mount. While the past weeks were not always easy, the Mount community banded together to take on the challenges and succeed in the face of adversity.
Some professors restructured their courses from the ground up to accommodate the new medium. Others, like Anthony Scardillo, assistant professor of Marketing at the college, had taught several online courses before the campus transitioned to the virtual classroom. This experience proved to be an advantage as he moved his face to face classes online, Scardillo said.
“I have taught extensively using online activities, so when we were asked to adapt our courses to online, all I had to do was make a couple of revisions,” he explained.
In the beginning, while the professors where getting the hang of online learning, so too where their students. However, they overcame hardships by working together. For example, Leonard “LJ” Barone of Shirley, N.Y., a sophomore Business student, credited Jeffrey Kahana, associate professor of History, with helping him to get used to this new educational paradigm.
“It was a difficult transition for sure,” said Barone. “Finding motivation at home can be difficult, but Professor Kahana has really been helpful. He sends positive emails to encourage us to do our best.”
Mount Saint Mary College teacher candidates faced a different issue: How would they continue student teaching in area K-12 classrooms? The answer was simple: They too embraced the virtual classroom.
Mount student Alec Durkin of Mattituck, N.Y., a senior History major on the adolescent education track, said the semester has been more “chaotic” others. Not only did he begin the rigorous student teaching process, but also had to adapt to an online environment mid semester. The change, however, has helped him to build new teaching skills he might not have had a chance to develop otherwise.
“Student teaching is all online now, and this experience has taught me how important it is to be proficient in using online learning materials,” he explained.
Durkin gave some words of advice for Education students who find themselves in the same boat: “The important part is remembering the students come first, and it is our job to do whatever we can to give them the proper education they need, no matter what grade they are in.”
He added, “Just take everything day by day and keep working.”
These days, that’s not only good advice for student teachers, but for us all.