In a program that exchanges resources for experience, Oswego State education students are partnering with Leighton Elementary students for a more hands-on teaching experience.
“Everyone in the building is just as passionate about working with kids and helping them succeed as I am, so it’s a very welcoming and friendly environment for all staff,” education major Jessica Kennedy said. “At Leighton they really try to make the community feel like a second home.”
This program is called the Leighton Community Classroom program. Oswego State students attend class in Leighton Elementary, a class taught by special education teacher, Linda Stummer. The students are learning special education to help children with disabilities in their classrooms enter the general education curriculum.
“All students have special needs,” Stummer said. “Special education is providing a gateway and accessibility so all students have the opportunity to take part in the general education curriculum.”
After Oswego State students are finished attending Stummer’s class, at 9 a.m., they go to their classrooms where they receive hands-on experiences teaching the elementary school students at Leighton.
“I wanted to become an education major with the goal to become a special education teacher,” said Madisyn Walsh, an education major at Oswego State. “Early intervention for young elementary school children with disabilities is so important and growing up with an older brother with autism really gave me a first-hand look at what kind of positive impacts early intervention and special education teachers have on children with disabilities.”
This program is not only open to Oswego State students; it is also open to Oswego State professors.
“College professors are learning a bunch, classroom teachers are learning a lot,” said Christine Walsh, a visiting assistant professor director. “The children get a lot more one-to-one attention. College students are really benefiting because they are in the classroom a lot more than a lot of other students.”
This program is an exchange in which Oswego State students receive experience and their own classroom while the school receives supplies such as desks, chairs and technology.
Oswego State students have a competitive advantage over their peers for having done this program because not all schools offer this kind of program, according to Walsh.
“This program allows me to become acclimated in the school community,” said Rachel Hoenings, an Oswego State student. “It helps me by allowing me to have a better relationship with my host teacher and the students in the class. I am not just a visitor in the classroom I am considered an important part of the classroom.”
The result of having extra hands in the classroom has been improving Leighton from a focus school, a school that is identified by New York State as being a school with low academic performance, to being placed off the focus school’s list.
According to Walsh, the program will lead to higher test scores and better opportunities for the students to get ahead.
“Having [Oswego State students] in Leighton classrooms raises the level of professionalism in the school building because their learning and their questions about the practice of teaching helps us all take a closer look at the teaching and learning process,” Walsh said. “It’s another adult to connect with individual children in the classroom as we meet increasing academic, social and emotional needs.”