SUNY-ESF Alumni Join Forces to Start Science Education at the School of Education – Syracuse University News | Team Cansler

Syracuse University’s relationship with its close neighbor, the College of Environmental Science and Forestry at the State University of New York, was long and fruitful. After all, the SUNY-ESF was founded in 1911 as a unit of SU, and today the two universities share resources, their professors work together, and students mingle across the two campuses, take classes together, join cross-campus organizations and—sometimes – graduating from one college and into the other.

SUNY ESF graduates in the classroom

Six SUNY-ESF graduates jointly entered the School of Education’s MS in Science Education program (Grades 7-12) in Fall 2022. Pictured in Professor Sharon Dotger’s Science Education Instruction Class are (front row, left to right) Nolan Lawroski and Lara Collins, Mary Hillebrand and Liz Malecki, and (back row, L to R) Meghan Morrol and Mae Hurley.

The latter scenario is certainly the case for six SUNY-ESF graduates who enrolled in the School of Education’s (SOE) 13-month master’s program in science education (grades 7-12) in the summer of 2022.

For Sharon Dotger, associate professor and director of the science education program, recruiting science students from SUNY-ESF just made sense. “Science education students must have a bachelor’s degree in a science that meets New York State’s criteria for department certification,” she says. “SUNY-ESF offers 27 undergraduate programs, many of which are focused on biology certification. Our proximity and cooperation agreements with SUNY-ESF make communication regarding our master’s program relatively easy.”

“Having a critical mass of SUNY-ESF alumni beginning their teacher education together as a cohort has the potential to support them along the way and catalyze a deeper relationship in the future for the two institutions,” says SOE Interim Dean Kelly Chandler. Olcott.

Dotger met with prospective science students at SUNY-ESF for the first time ahead of the 2021 winter break. She explained the advantages and benefits of the SOE teacher preparation program for science education, including a curriculum focused on putting equitable and anti-racist education into practice, a 50 percent SOE scholarship for all masters and certificate students, a state teacher certification New York for successful graduates and extensive, guided field internships beginning within weeks of the start of SOE classes.

“This semester, my students have a nine-week, half-day internship in Jamesville-Dewitt or Solvay, two local school districts where I have a long history of working with science teachers,” says Dotger. “I am grateful that the visiting teachers were so hospitable, and I know that the teacher-candidates will have an opportunity to practice the inclusive and equitable science education that we study in methods classes.”

“Our candidates recognize that science is relevant to everyone’s daily life,” says Dotger. “This course and its internships are designed with the intention that our student teachers will help young people to develop that clarity as well.”

The SUNY-ESF Science Education Cohort

Headshot by Lara CollinsLaraCollins

  • Hometown: Coppell, TX
  • SUNY ESF Major: wildlife lore
  • Activities/Hobbies: Hiking, snowboarding, swimming, kayaking – “Basically everything that has to do with the outdoors and nature”

What drew you to the MS in Science Education?

The fact that it is a one year program, the 50% tuition and if I successfully complete the program I will qualify for a teaching certificate. Also, there is no relocation as the program and internships are in the Syracuse area and I can teach older students, which is what I prefer.

What do you hope to learn that you can bring to your classroom?

I would like to learn from my colleagues how to become a student teacher. I also want to understand how to deal with bullying, how to communicate with parents and so on. I hope to incorporate ideas that I like, but I also remember things that I don’t want to duplicate in my class.

Why should young students learn and understand science?

We are constantly expanding our knowledge of the earth, but there is still so much to discover. Young students need to learn scientific methods so they can solve problems and create a better quality of life.

Headshot by Mary HillebrandMaria Hillebrand

      • Hometown: Buffalo, New York
      • SUNY ESF Major: environmental education and interpretation
      • Activities/Hobbies: Syracuse University Western Equestrian Team, SUNY-ESF Bass Fishing Team, plus hiking, bird watching and horseback riding

What drew you to the MS in Science Education?

Professors Ben and Sharon Dotger hosted a briefing at SUNY-ESF recommended to me by SUNY-ESF Professor Shari Dann. They were so kind, passionate and really got me interested in the program. I love sharing the “cool stuff” about science and helping people connect with nature.

What do you hope to learn that you can bring to your classroom?

Ultimately, I want to learn how best to engage, inspire and empower each and every student. I want to help students find their voice and show them how cool science can be.

Why should young students learn and understand science?

Science understands the world we live in, from what goes on in our bodies to how we turn on the television to how elephants are made. When we know how to engage in science and scientific thinking, we understand the world.

Headshot by Mae HurleyMargaret “Mae” Hurley

      • Hometown: Rochester, New York
      • SUNY ESF Major: environmental education and interpretation
      • Activities/Hobbies: writing, art, collecting, roller skating and video games

What drew you to the MS in Science Education?

This is a formal teacher preparation program with good career prospects and the opportunity to travel with my degree.

What do you hope to learn that you can bring to your classroom?

An understanding of my practice, including planning, as well as learning skills and then practicing them in the field internships.

Why should young students learn and understand science?

Learning science creates informed and educated members of society who will continue to help protect, improve, and understand the world around us.

Headshot by Nolan LawroskiNolan Lavroski

      • Hometown: Shelby Parish, MI
      • SUNY ESF Major: Environmental Biology, with specializations in Mycology and Parasitology
      • Activities/Hobbies: Baking, cooking and video games

What drew you to the MS in Science Education?

It was a perfect opportunity at the perfect time. And all in all, it’s relatively affordable.

What do you hope to learn that you can bring to your classroom?

Classroom management, lesson planning skills and how to adapt to the diverse learning needs of my students.

Why should young students learn and understand science?

It’s the reason we can understand how everything in the world works.

Headshot by Liz MaleckiElizabeth “Liz” Malecki

      • Hometown: Buffalo, New York
      • SUNY ESF Major: Government Education and Interpreting, specializing in Government Writing and Rhetoric
      • Activities/Hobbies: SUNY-ESF Woodsmen team during undergraduate and hiking and backpacking

What drew you to the MS in Science Education?

It was a great opportunity to continue my education at an excellent school.

What do you hope to learn that you can bring to your classroom?

The methods and skills to make science more accessible to all students.

Why should young students learn and understand science?

Biology is much more than just learning about mitosis or evolution. Biology—and science in general—is about learning how to observe, question, and think critically about the world around us. These skills are used every day and it is important that young people are equipped with them.

Meghan Morrol head shotMeghan Morrol

        • Hometown: Rochester, New York
        • SUNY ESF Major: Conservation Biology, with a specialization in Native Studies and a primary interest in Mycology
        • Activities/Hobbies: “I love everything in nature and do a lot of hiking and camping. When I’m not outside or in the classroom, I’m usually crocheting, writing, or doing yoga.”

What drew you to the MS in Science Education?

I was drawn to this program by the idea of ​​an accelerated year-long program that prioritizes anti-racist pedagogy. Now more than ever, we need teachers who can work together to teach diverse learners in a way that addresses each student’s strengths and needs.

What do you hope to learn that you can bring to your classroom?

I hope to find equitable teaching strategies that encourage students to explore their world and approach problems with an inquiring mind. At its core, science urges us to approach everything with an open mind. As a teacher, I strive to reflect openness and reasoning, and constantly encourage my students to think critically about their environment.

Why should young students learn and understand science?

Young students must learn to ask questions and decipher the world around them using evidence. Science is critical to preparing students to develop the reasoning and inquiry needed to understand the world in which we live.

Learn more about the School of Education’s Master’s Teacher Preparation programs or contact Rebecca Pettit, Inquiry and Application Specialist, at rrpettit@syr.edu or 315.443.2956

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