From her perspective as chair of Nazareth’s Department of Inclusive Childhood Education, Dr. Kate DaBoll-Lavoie sees the influence of the College on the Rochester community every day.
About 35% of Nazareth’s 2,000 undergrads and as many as half of the 1,000 graduate students are enrolled in teacher certification programs, DaBoll-Lavoie points out, and a high number stay in the area.
But Nazareth students have a big impact even before they enter their own classrooms. “We offer 15 sections of site-based courses out in the schools,” DaBoll-Lavoie says. “Instead of coming here to campus, students actually go out into elementary schools and educational settings, where they work with teachers and students in classrooms.”
She cites as an example Nazareth students who are deeply involved in a before-school-hours program for elementary students who are learning the English language.
Nazareth programs focus on all children in all educational settings, DaBoll-Lavoie says. “Years ago, we were teaching toward the middle – but now we know there is no middle. Kids have a variety of strengths and face a variety of potential challenges.”
The Nazareth approach to teaching teachers has several distinctions. Students are immersed in inclusive education with coursework integrated across areas. Undergraduates can receive a bachelor’s degree after four years and go out and teach; with the addition of one more year, a student can also receive a master’s that either deepens the area of focus or adds another certification.
And all those who plan to teach in pre-k through 9th grade graduate with two majors – in childhood education and in a subject area. DaBoll-Lavoie added that faculty encourages students to think about combining an education major with a major in mathematics or one of the sciences.
“Many people are involved with the process of preparing teachers, from faculty and staff at Naz to practicing teachers and administrators,” says DaBoll-Lavoie. “All of us are working together to prepare the best teachers we can. We want build partnerships with schools to frame a collective vision what is helpful to students and teachers in those schools.”
Teachers in the greater Rochester area also turn to Nazareth for professional development offerings.
The new Integrated Center for Math and Science will be helpful for fledgling and experienced teachers alike – and for all students, DaBoll-Lavoie says.
“Graduates of the elementary education program, whether or not they are math or science majors per se, will be responsible for teaching math and science to children. The new facility will help with their content knowledge as well as their skills.
“Environments that support math and science in new ways will also have an across-the-board impact,” she adds. “Even students who are not majoring in math and science will engage in a learning experience that is deepened because of those facilities.”