In partnership with the Oswego City School District, SUNY Oswego has established a college classroom at Leighton Elementary. The new Leighton Learning Community classroom exposes SUNY Oswego students to practicum and methods coursework, and hands-on opportunities to learn from professional teachers and interact with local elementary school children.

“Right now we’re in Leighton Elementary School and we’re here because we have an awesome opportunity,” said Rachel Piazza, a junior childhood education major.

“A classroom is usually in the college or online but we get the opportunity to have it in a classroom where we are helping out students,” said Brianna Mastrobattista, a junior childhood education major.

“The premise behind the Leighton Learning Community is let’s provide our pre-service teachers with richer and more experiences early on,” said Linda Stummer, a visiting assistant professor in SUNY Oswego’s curriculum and instruction department.

“First we come here and we take our class in special education, which is awesome because we learn so much. Then we get to go right into the classroom, and we’re not just observing or standing in the back and watching; we’re getting right involved,” Piazza said.

“These teachers now are experiencing way more opportunities in the classroom and richer experiences,” Stummer said. “I think the difference is that students leave the learning environment of SUNY Oswego and immediately can apply the concepts, the ideas, the philosophies straight on in the classroom.”

Good for all

Dean Goewey, the Oswego City School District superintendent, is happy the school can play a role in a partnership that is good for the college, the students, the school district and schoolchildren.

“This provides a seamless transition between classroom to practice,” Goewey said. “They literally have class in this classroom in the morning and then they simply go to their classrooms for their experience for the rest of the day.”

“It is such a unique opportunity and I find myself almost every day saying to our students, these are things that you can put on a resume,” Stummer said.

“Many of our teachers either have their bachelor’s or master’s or both from SUNY Oswego. We try to hire locally,” Goewey said. “It’s not unusual at all for us to hire students that come to our schools and who are rock star student-teachers. So selfishly this is a recruiting tool for us as well.”

“Students have the opportunity to see best practices in action and to practice what they’re learning at a way earlier pace in their teacher prep program,” Stummer noted. They’re not waiting for student teaching. They have the opportunity to see it and practice it long before student teaching occurs.”

For Piazza, the partnership can help make her teaching dreams come true.

“It means so much to me. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher,” Piazza said. “And being able to have this opportunity where I’m in a classroom more than I ever thought I ever would be and being able to do so much, it’s taught me so many tools and strategies that I can bring into my future classroom. And I think all in all this will just make me a better teacher in the long run.”