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Alumni Profiles

These are a few alumni of the MST Childhood Education program.Feel free to reach out to them by email with any questions about the program or their career.

Christie Sharlow

Degree/Concentration: MST Childhood Education (Grades 1-6)
Current Position: Special Education Teacher at Greenville Central School, Greenville, NY
Email: csharlow09@gmail.com

Role Description: I am a Special Education Teacher in a self-contained classroom for elementary-aged students with social-emotional and behavioral difficulties. I work in conjunction with a school psychologist to develop behavior plans, modify academics, and teach pro-social skills and calming strategies to help these students succeed academically, socially, and behaviorally. Our goal is to eventually integrate our students into mainstream classes for part of their school day, and then full-time into a general education classroom.

How did your degree from SUNY Potsdam help you get this job?

My degree from SUNY Potsdam was instrumental in helping me get my current job, as well as my first teaching position, at Madrid-Waddington Central School. During each interview I've had for a teaching position, the interview committee has always mentioned SUNY Potsdam's reputation of having a remarkable teaching program.

How does your degree help you be successful at this job?

My degree from SUNY Potsdam helped me to develop the specific skills I needed in order to excel in the field of education. Yes, I developed the domain-specific skills I needed to teach ELA, math, science, and social studies, but I think that the most important class I took was on the philosophy of education. There, we explored the meaning of education, and different viewpoints and beliefs about teaching and education. It was in this class that I developed my own philosophy on education, which I live by now.

What advice do you have for SUNY Potsdam prospective students considering earning your graduate degree?

If you're passionate about teaching, this is the right place for you. I had the most incredible student teaching experience, in Madrid-Waddington, and at Madison Elementary School in Massena. Not only did I learn so much from the amazing teachers I was placed with, but these experiences helped me land my absolute dream job.

What are some specific skills you learned Potsdam that help you in your career?

In Professor Hayes' Classroom Management class, we made a "Substitute Binder", in which we had to put together our entire management system in a binder so that anyone could read through it and know exactly how things should work in our classrooms. This forced us to sit down and actually come up with a plan, down to the smallest detail, of how things would run in our classrooms. I actually took this to my first interview, and once being offered the job, modified it slightly, and used it in my first year of teaching.

Is there anything else you would like to say about SUNY Potsdam, your degree, and/or your career?
Before and during my time at SUNY Potsdam, I worked as a teaching assistant in a social-emotional/behavioral program in Potsdam. I talked to my advisor about how my dream was to teach in a similar program, and she and I sat down and planned what I needed to do for that to happen. During my first year of teaching, I taught at Madrid-Waddington Central School, where I also student taught the year before. I took courses to become certified in Special Education and Early Childhood Education, and at the end of the school year, accepted my current position as a special education teacher in a self-contained social-emotional/behavioral classroom outside of Albany. I can't thank my advisor, Vikki Hayes enough for everything she did to support me while I was at SUNY Potsdam.


Marilyn Brennan Picture

Marilyn Brennan

Degree/Concentration: MST Early Childhood (Music/Sociology)
Current Position: Music Educator/ Classroom Teacher
Email: fluteit@ripnet.com

How did your degree from SUNY Potsdam help you get this job?

As a private music educator for many years, it enabled me to become a part of the OCT (Ontario College of Teachers) certifying me to teach within the public school system in Ontario, in addition, receiving U.S. teaching certification.

How does your degree help you be successful at this job?

The course content in the MST Childhood program was and continues to be invaluable in the continuation and rounding out of my teaching career.

What advice do you have for SUNY Potsdam prospective students considering earning your graduate degree?

Take advantage and embrace all you can from the outstanding teaching faculty in MST education program, enjoy the camaraderie of classmates and have a diligent attitude towards your studies at SUNY. It is so worth it!

What are some specific skills you learned Potsdam that help you in your career?
Going back to school as a mature student enabled me to study new and innovative advancements in education.

Is there anything else you would like to say about SUNY Potsdam, your degree, and/or your career?
Prior to me choosing SUNY Potsdam, I visiting and reviewed curricula from other graduate education programs in Ontario. SUNY was my first choice due to the warm and welcoming atmosphere, the smaller class size, the outstanding faculty and the value placed upon the high level of academic expectations.

Katie O'Connor

Degree/Concentration: MST Childhood Education (Grades 1-6)
Current Position: First Grade Teacher in Phoenix, Arizona
Email: koconnor@gesd40.org

Role Description: I am currently teaching a first grade class in a title one school district in Phoenix Arizona. In my classroom I am responsible for 25 first graders, some of which English is the second language. In my classroom there are also several special needs students. During the day I teach the classic subjects of ELA, Math, Science and Social Studies, but I am also responsible for teaching my own Reading, Writing and Math intervention Classes. Having students who may come from high-risk homes I also teach many life skills and social skills lessons throughout a normal week.

How did your degree from SUNY Potsdam help you get this job?
My master's degree in Education helped me land my job here in Arizona. With my master's, I came highly qualified and it made me very marketable when applying for jobs.

How does your degree help you be successful at this job?

I learned so much during my time in the Childhood MST program. Some of my best experiences and most memorable lessons were learned during my student teaching and while working with Victoria Hayes. I know that when I am in my classroom or being observed by my district advisors or principal that I came to this campus with a degree and experiences that many other veteran teachers here do not have. This gives me an advantage.

What advice do you have for SUNY Potsdam prospective students considering earning your graduate degree?

I would recommend taking the chance on yourself. The Childhood MST program staff members are very inspiring and helpful. I know I would not be where I am today without some of my professors help and guidance. I think that the student teaching experience is the most amazing experience you could have as a teacher candidate. You are able to learn by watching your mentor, working with your mentor and trying out your own ideas by yourself. As a person who learns by doing and asking questions student teaching was the greatest.

I would also recommend you to go to the job fair at SUNY Cortland. It was one of the greatest things that I could have ever done! I was able to participate in multiple interviews a day and really learn what my strengths and weaknesses were as a person and as a teacher.

What are some specific skills you learned Potsdam that help you in your career?
During my time at SUNY Potsdam in my graduate program I learned so many skills that I have now implemented into my classroom. I do have to say that I learned the most from my student teaching experiences and from my reflections in my methods courses. Being able to try out new ideas and techniques in an actual classroom and then have a discussion with both a professor and peers about it helped me grow and learn more than anything else. Throughout my MST program at SUNY Potsdam I was treated as something more then just a college student. My professors and mentor teachers respected my opinions and trusted me to make the right choices. That was truly empowering.

Is there anything else you would like to say about SUNY Potsdam, your degree, and/or your career?
During my time at SUNY Potsdam both in my undergraduate and graduate programs, I learned that I need to take chances and trust myself when it comes to working with students. Victoria Hayes and both my mentor teachers helped me realize that my instincts were exactly what I needed to be doing and that I needed to stop over thinking every lesson I taught. In your mind as a student you think you need to strive for perfection, but you always learn the most from your mistakes and that is ok! Having someone who believed in me as strongly as Victoria Hayes and my mentor teachers did helped me become the successful teacher and person I am today.