Program (Degree and Major): P3 Certification (Modified Alternate Route)
Graduation Date: 2012
Why did you choose this field of study? Why did you choose the program at Montclair State University?
My son had an amazing preschool teacher growing up and she made such a lasting impression on us that I wanted to be able to bring that same joy to other children. I was in my 40’s with three children and Montclair’s program made it easy to do it as a hybrid program.
What were the best parts of your program?
The best part of the program was all of the amazing teachers and professors that I met along the way. They gave practical advice based on experience and the classes were always engaging and current.
Now that you are working in your field, how did your program prepare you for this position?
The program incorporated work experience along with my classes. Collaborating with other teachers is the best experience. You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with.
Please tell us about what you are currently doing and what your future plans are.
I have been a PreK-4 teacher for the last 9 years at Downe Township Elementary School. I was fortunate this spring to join with Dr. Jean Feldman, an icon in early childhood education, Barbara Gruener, a nationally recognized speaker on social-emotional learning, and Toni Mullins, a Kindergarten teacher and digital extraordinaire, to co-author the Virtual Classroom Survival Guide.
When schools closed in March due to COVID-19, Dr. Jean used her social media platform to ask teachers, “What are you doing for our preschoolers during this time?” I responded and explained how I was virtually celebrating their birthdays, having art shows, playing musical chairs, and making it into math lessons. I also held a Mother’s Day Virtual Tea and Dr. Jean was kind enough to be my mystery guest. Dr. Jean reached out to me afterward to collaborate on writing a book that could help teachers.
We focused on building parent relationships, social-emotional learning, and providing resources and tools to assist teachers during this difficult time. When we finished in July, our book was filled with over 245 pages of best practices for teachers in this new era. We weren’t sure what this school year would bring, but we wanted our teachers to feel confident that they could continue to provide the best learning environment for their students, no matter what the school year brings.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your program, the College of Education & Human Services, or Montclair State University that we haven’t asked about?
Diane Cavagnaro, is the P3 Program Coordinator for the South Jersey Cohort and made a lasting impression on me. She did my final observation and I will never forget it because we had a Derecho storm that day, the power went out, the children were scared, but she stayed calm which helped me stay calm and I just always remember her being more than an advisor that day, she was a friend.