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SUNY-ESF Graduates Launch Their Science Teaching Careers Together at the School of Education

This article was originally published by Syracuse University News

Syracuse University’s relationship with its close neighbor, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, has been a long and fruitful one. After all, SUNY-ESF was founded as a unit of SU in 1911, and today the two universities share resources, their professors collaborate, and students mingle across the two campuses, take classes together, join cross-campus organizations, and—sometimes—graduate from one college and into the other.

That last scenario is certainly the case for six SUNY-ESF graduates who, in summer 2022, enrolled in the School of Education’s (SOE) 13-month master’s degree program in science education (Grades 7-12).

Six SUNY-ESF graduates joined the School of Education’s M.S. in Science Education (Grades 7-12) program together in fall 2022.

Recruiting science students from SUNY-ESF just made sense to Sharon Dotger, associate professor and science education program leader. “Science education students must have a bachelor’s degree in a science that aligns with New York State’s criteria for the subject-area certification,” she says. “SUNY-ESF offers 27 undergraduate programs, many of which are aligned with biology certification. Our close proximity and collaborative arrangements with SUNY-ESF make communication regarding our master’s program relatively easy.”

“Having a critical mass of SUNY-ESF alumni beginning their teacher preparation together as a cohort has the potential to support them on their journey as well as catalyze a deeper relationship in the future for the two institutions,” says SOE Interim Dean Kelly Chandler-Olcott.

Dotger first met with prospective science education students at SUNY-ESF before the 2021 winter break. She explained the advantages and benefits of SOE’s science education teacher preparation program, including a curriculum that focuses on putting equitable and antiracist education into practice, a 50 percent SOE scholarship for all master’s and certificate students, New York State teacher certification for successful graduates, and extensive, guided field placements that begin within a few weeks of the start of SOE classes.

“This term, my students have a nine-week, half-day field placement in Jamesville-Dewitt or Solvay, two local school districts where I have had long-standing collaborations with science teachers,” says Dotger. “I’m grateful that host teachers have been so welcoming, and I know that the teacher candidates will have opportunities to practice the inclusive and equitable science teaching we’re studying in methods class.”

“Our candidates are clear that science is relevant to the daily lives of everyone,” says Dotger. “This course and its placements are designed with the intent of our student teachers helping young people develop that clarity, too.”

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