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From classroom to classroom

April 15, 2015

South Glens Falls partners with Skidmore to enhance learning for all students

A Skidmore senior reads to a group of third-grade students at Ballard Elementary School.

A Skidmore senior reads to a group of third-grade students at Ballard Elementary School.

The South Glens Falls Central School District has recently partnered with Skidmore College to help improve teaching and learning for future educators and students here in our district.

Over the course of the past year, South Glens Falls has hosted several Skidmore student interns at Ballard and Tanglewood elementary schools, and our math and literacy coaches have visited Skidmore classes to talk about curriculum, instruction and life in the classroom. In turn, SGF students and teachers have benefitted from the knowledge that the student teachers have brought to the classroom, and been able to take advantage of some special programs as well.

“It is our responsibility to be supportive of local college programs so that everyone learns and benefits from the newest and best practices,” said Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction Kristine Orr. “We’re a school—it’s our privilege to support the success of aspiring educators by offering our classrooms as a way for them to continue learning.”

The students who have been interning and student teaching in South Glens Falls have benefited from the experiences they have had in the classrooms here, and being in the schools has helped bridge the gap between theory and practice, said Skidmore junior Dimitri Barton.

“I left Ballard feeling confident and prepared for the next step in my teaching career,” said Skidmore Class of 2015 student Jennah Maybury, who worked with Ballard third-grade teacher Missy Waghorn. “My positive experience at Ballard, in conjunction with Skidmore, allowed me to identify what I am looking for in my ideal school environment, as well as my own identity as an aspiring educator.”

Emily Merrigan was also inspired by her experiences in Cathy Geniti’s first-grade classroom at Ballard.

“No one is perfect, but Ballard taught me that no student, no teacher, and especially no student teacher has to be, but what makes you great is if you persevere through the trying times, take pride in what you worked so hard for, and remember to keep a kind smile on your face,”  Merrigan said.

The students also had a chance to learn about the ways teachers work together in school.

“I hadn’t even thought about how much teachers collaborate before this placement,” said Ashley King, who worked at Tanglewood. “Every day the second grade team would bounce ideas off of each other, lesson plan together, share past lesson strategies, and most importantly they would support each other.  I felt so at home with the teachers there and it was very difficult to leave that support system.  I think that this taught me that it’s okay to go to another teacher for help, particularly if they have more experience than you.  They are always willing to help and give you more ideas that you never even thought of!”

SGF Math Coach Jerilyn Hogan and Skidmore lecturer Ginny Lee in Lee's class.

SGF Math Coach Jerilyn Hogan and Skidmore lecturer Ginny Lee in Lee’s class. Hogan presented to students in February.

In addition to the student intern and student teaching experience, SGF math coach Jerilyn Hogan and SGF literacy coach Shelley Fenton have presented to several groups of college students and supervisors on current education topics, including writing workshop, adapting the Common Core modules to students and integrating technology into the classroom.

“First and foremost, it is always powerful to have Skidmore students see examples of master teachers at work,” said Christine Dawson, director of student teaching at Skidmore College, who is also an SGF parent. “These teachers can model the kind of lifelong learning, thoughtful and reflective practice, and creative intellectualism we hope our prospective teachers will aspire to in their own careers.”

Bringing master teachers into the college classrooms helps the college students “integrate research with reality, and to apply what they have learning in my classroom to the elementary school math classroom,” said Ginny Lee, a lecturer in Skidmore’s Department of Education Studies. Hogan presented in her classroom in February—having the college students clap out math facts and engage in “math sprints,” which are used frequently in elementary classrooms. “Jerilyn provided a great connection between theory and practice for these aspiring teachers.”

Ballard students visiting The Tang Museum.

Ballard students visiting The Tang Museum.

Skidmore educators have also visited South Glens Falls. Last spring, Ginger Ertz from the Francis Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery visited Ballard to explain the Tang’s style of Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), which is a way of teaching students to observe visual artwork and support their interpretations using evidence from the artwork. This past fall, Ballard students in grade 1-5 visited the Tang Museum to participate in VTS and make an art project. Ertz is expected to return to Ballard this spring with the museum’s traveling art program for schools.

“The transfer between these strategies used in analysis of the visual arts is easily transferable into the subject matter across disciplines. The high level of thinking and use of evidence to support your position is deeply connected with the essence of what the Common Core is all about,” says Michael Huchro, principal of Ballard Elementary School. “We continue to appreciate and look for opportunities to strengthen the relationship between the two organizations. These types of reciprocal relationships set the stage for a ‘win-win’ situation and broaden networking and resources for all students and educators.”

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