By Stacy Wells Shea, Senior Assistant Director of Admissions; Combined-Admission Programs Coordinator
When you read the University’s list of majors, you’ll see that education is missing. That’s not because we don’t offer it, it’s just that we offer a different type of education program. About five years ago, when a student asked me if we had an education major, my response would be “well, no.” I’m proud to say that I can now answer that question with an enthusiastic “yes.” Well, kind of.
Five years ago, the Office of Admissions teamed up with the University’s Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development to offer a program that allowed students to become teachers and experts in their specialized field of work. We realized that most students didn’t want to just learn about pedagogy, or how to teach, but wanted to have expertise in WHAT they were teaching. A math teacher needs to know math to actually teach it, right?
Our only problem was that we couldn’t just send our math majors out into New York State with their math degrees to teach. Why? Because New York State, just like other states, requires that teachers have master’s degrees for teaching. So, the idea was to combine the two: an undergraduate degree from any subject area, and a master’s degree in education—together, known as the GRADE program. A novel idea.
This year, we found that close to 200 students thought this was a novel idea also. We’re finding that many students don’t want to complete two education degrees and then find out that they have nothing to teach! Of those 200, we’ve selected a number of students to come and interview for the program. If those students are admitted to the program, they get to partake in the most important part of the program: field trips!
Ok, I know that it sounds silly and a bit elementary, but I promise, this is the part of the program that helps most of our students stay connected to education while pursuing their other degrees. We’ve done high school visits, helped to organize reading programs, and helped to tutor in local classrooms. Our most recent visit was to the Strong National Museum of Play, to watch a kindergarten classroom and do what most teachers do best: be superheroes (in costume for now, in the classroom later).
I’m hoping that this year’s class of GRADE scholars adds some new Wonderwomen (and men). I can’t wait to meet them.