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Teaching Resources

Talking Shop

Technically Speaking

I Remember Professor...

Good Teachers on Good Teaching

Mutual Benefits

A Win-Win-Win-Win Situation

Viggo Mortensen '80 Remembers

Laurentian Reviews

Alumni Accomplishments

Table of Contents

Mutual Benefits
For St. Lawrence’s education students and for St. Lawrence County schools, it’s a quid pro quo.

By Jackie Roy ’04

 Too many North Country high school students don’t know how to read. St. Lawrence education students need 100 hours in classrooms in addition to their “professional semester” of student teaching.

These two situations mean there has never been a better time for creating initiatives that link St. Law-rence’s graduate programs with North Country schools, establishing partnerships that benefit both sides. Through programs such as the professional semester, tutoring in reading and math, the Literacy and Theatre Project and the Teaching Scholars Program (see related article for more on the latter), St. Law-rence’s education department is finding itself more and more connected with local schools, in mutually beneficial ways.

The professional semester not only helps St. Lawrence students earn teaching certificates in New York State, but also puts high school students in contact with college students every day. For one semester during their senior year, education students spend the day teaching their major subject in schools in St. Lawrence County, possibly commuting up to an hour from Canton.

According to Professor and Chair of Education Jim Shuman, students participating in the professional semester are faced with challenges not encountered on the St. Law-rence campus. “Students learn a huge amount about their major because they have to teach it,” he says. “On the professional semester, they must look at their subject material with new eyes.”

For St. Lawrence students who aren’t ready to make a full-semester commitment or who want to discover whether teaching is for them, there is the reading and math tutor program. Students spend eight to 12 hours per week working with either elementary or high school students in area schools, helping them to develop basic skills.

Andrew Swiesz ’03, Plattsburgh, N.Y., has participated in the program for five semesters and has worked at all levels, from high school to elementary. “While I’m at St. Lawrence I want to be involved in the community,” Swiesz says. “I am interested in joining the Peace Corps and felt that learning early development training techniques would benefit me.”

Victoria Rue, an adjunct instructor in religious studies and speech and theatre, gave St. Lawrence students yet another opportunity to interact with local school students through the Literacy and Theatre Project. A grant from the Verizon Foundation, through the Indepen-dent College Fund of New York, helped Rue create a program to help local schools improve literacy through theatre and sharing of personal stories. According to Rue, the goal of the Literacy and Theatre Project is to encourage both college and high school students to think about how they read and write.

During the fall semester, St. Law-rence students were mentors to high school students with reading challenges while both groups shared their life stories with each other and discussed how they learned to read or what makes learning so difficult. Under the leadership of Rue and Laurie Puzio ’03, Williamsville, N.Y., they then created a play based on these stories and entitled Do You Read Me? The combined college and high school ensemble performed it in several central St. Law-rence County schools in March.

Rue says, “All of the students experienced empowerment through the process of making theatre and then presenting it to the audience. They all shared a piece of themselves through this play. The most important thing, though, is that the high school students got to work with students from St. Law-rence, who showed that they really cared about their education.”

The education department continues its longstanding contribution to North Country education by offering currently employed teachers the opportunity to further their education and/or complete a master’s degree. The department offers three graduate programs: general education, counseling and development, and educational administration. Offering these graduate courses ensures that local teachers have a nearby place to receive training.

“ Every teacher must have a master’s, by state regulation,” Shuman says. “We need to be able to provide this and be a support to our North Country schools.

“ It’s a great service that St. Law-rence provides the region,” Shuman says. “In return, they provide our students places to get the experience they need for a professional education career.”

Jackie Roy is a graduate of a St. Lawrence County high school, having grown up in Massena, N.Y. She was an intern in the Univer-sity communications office in spring 2003.