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Hamburg, Fredonia teaching program is celebrating 40 years

For the 40th year, several seniors from SUNY Fredonia have had the opportunity to gain a hands on teaching experience through a partnership with the Hamburg Central School District.

That anniversary will culminate with a reunion celebration from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, April 19 at the Old Orchard Inn, 2095 Blakeley Road, East Aurora. The cost is $20 per person. The cost includes Hors D’oeuvres and there is a cash bar as well. Tickets can be purchased at the Southtowns Teachers Center, 4540 Southwestern Blvd., Hamburg.

Boston Valley Elementary School Teacher Jackie Rasulo, who will serve as the program’s coordinator, said this program made a big impact on her life.

Rasulo, who is both a Hamburg graduate and former student at Boston Valley, first learned about the program when she was a high school student, which ultimately helped her decide to go to Fredonia.

“It’s a student teacher program,” Rasulo said. “You start in your first classroom the very first day of school.”

She said it helps build routines and learn how to build repoire.

Rasulo said it is hard work, but in the end, a very rewarding program that helps teachers who are chosen, to be better prepared to handle teaching once they are out of school.

The program includes three days a week of student teaching and two days a week of doing methods in Hamburg.

According to Rasulo, throughout the school year, the student teachers are at different buildings.

During her time in the program, Rasulo said she spent time at Union Pleasant, Armor and Boston Valley Elementary Schools. This included a stint with her second grade teacher.

A couple years after finishing the program, Rasulo ended up at Boston Valley and has taught there for 16 years, starting as a fifth grade teacher.

“I teach first grade now,” she said.

The program was started 40 years ago by Dr, Daniel Wheeler from Fredonia, who helped create the partnership with Hamburg, she said.

While students who go to any college for teaching will go through a student teaching process, this one is designed differently than a lot of others.

“This is just a more rigorous program,” Rasulo said.

This allows student teachers to do various activities with the students. Rasulo noted the program gives ample opportunities for small group instruction.

Rasulo said it not only helped her be prepared for teaching day-to-day, but it also helped her when it came time to interview for teaching positions.

“I think it helped me tremendously with my confidence,” she said.

Because of her experience, she feels it is a program she pushes others to try and enter.

“I want to sell it,” she said. “I really feel strongly that it helped me get to where I am.”

She credits Michelle Errington, whom she knew in high school, as a reason why she went to Fredonia. Rasulo said Errington told her about the program at that time and it prompted her to follow. And it is a decision she is glad she made.

Hannah Delansky, who is a senior at Fredonia and currently participating in the program, said it has been a rewarding experience for her.

Delansky, a Williamsville resident, first learned about the program early in her collegiate career.

“They brought it up Freshman year,” she said.

She put herself on a waiting list and noted she was “lucky enough” to get in.

This has included student teaching first grade at Armor, fourth grade at Union Pleasant and sixth grade at the Hamburg Middle School.

It has allowed her to work with students of all ages and abilities and has made her look at teaching in a different light.

“I’ve expanded my outlook on teaching styles and roles of development,: she said. “I’ve enjoyed all three of my placements.”

Delansky is aiming to become a special education teacher.

“The program has prepared me to do that,” she said.

This is in part because of the perspective she has from being with teachers, many of whom have gone through the program, and having the chance to meet with other staff members of the buildings.

Delansky said she has really enjoyed the opportunity to travel with teachers around the district and have the chance to network.

Rasulo added that another bonus with this program is that student teachers in this program can be called to serve as substitute teachers in the district now, up to three days a week.

Something that has been special for Delansky is that she has bonded with other student teachers who are also going through the program. There are 18 other interns that she interacts with constantly to talk with about their experiences.

According to Rasulo, there are more than 30 current teachers in the Hamburg Central School District that have been through the program. She is excited to serve as its coordinator and help it continue to be a beneficial program for Hamburg and Fredonia for years to come.

“Hamburg Central has been really wonderful about supporting the program for 40 years,” Rasulo said.

Delansky added she is happy with her decision to participate in it.

“My cooperating teachers have been great,” she said.


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