|Members of the team from the Dunkirk City School District and the State University of New York at Fredonia that facilitated a new autism clinic for Dunkirk children include (from left): Marcy Conti, speech pathologist; Michelle Polvino, special education teacher; Marybeth Muldowney, director of special education; Stacey Lovern, occupational therapist; Laura Geraci, assistant professor of special education at Fredonia and instructor of the course, “Issues, Trends and Research in Autism,” and Diane Gifford, parent and volunteer.
(Missing from photo: physical therapist Amy Renolds.)
The College of Education–Professional Education Unit (COE-PEU) at Fredonia is continuously developing and enhancing its programs, experiences and opportunities to ensure that teacher education remains vibrant and continues to be a valuable career choice. The College of Education collaborates with Fredonia’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and College of Visual and Performing Arts as the COE-PEU to offer a variety of undergraduate and graduate educator preparation programs in Early Childhood, Childhood, Adolescence Education, Speech, Music and Education Leadership. Faculty members in the COE-PEU have demonstrated commitment to their programs, research and students.
A hallmark of the educator preparation programs at Fredonia is its attention to providing clinically rich experiences throughout each program. In undergraduate programs, candidates are assigned fieldwork as early as their freshman year and culminate in a semester-long student teaching assignment. Candidates in graduate programs are also steeped in clinically rich experiences, culminating in capstone experiences that demonstrate attainment of advanced teaching skills. In addition to these clinically rich experiences, the COE-PEU also provides opportunities to further understanding of education, both inside and outside of the typical classroom setting.
Exemplifying this was the Spring 2014 launch of an autism clinic, spearheaded by Assistant Professor of Special Education Laura Geraci, graduate student Matthew Beebe, and the campus’ Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). Set in Dunkirk, the clinic was comprised of 25 undergraduate and graduate student volunteers working with 10 children with autism spectrum disorder. The primary goal of the clinic was to provide socialization among peers with and without autism, allowing the children to interact with each other in social play in order to develop all of their interpersonal communication skills. Dr. Geraci, the Dunkirk schools, and the Council for Exceptional Children hope to continue this clinic in future years.
The COE-PEU is nationally accredited and strives to ensure high-quality educator preparation. The COE-PEU is committed to promoting quality faculty and staff development, and advancing productive collaboration between schools and educators.
“If someone were interested in the College of Education at Fredonia, I would tell them that, from start to finish, being a student here will be one of the best decisions they can make on their path to becoming an effective teacher,” said Sarah Stanton, a 2014 Childhood Education graduate. “In retrospect, the college provides the highest quality education—always keeping the vital importance of each student becoming a successful, reflective and prepared educator at its forefront.”
Fellow 2014 graduate Molly Zanetti, an Early Childhood major with an Art concentration, added her appreciation, saying, “(The professors) truly care about their students and want them to have a great experience. They wanted us to succeed and they made sure we did.”