By Karen Angelo
Just halfway through their first semester, 18 first-year education majors are getting a taste of what it’s like on the frontlines of teaching at the Charlotte Murkland Elementary School in Lowell.
The students, enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts in Education program that was launched this fall, are working alongside classroom teachers, developing lesson plans and interacting with students. They will get hands-on experience throughout the four years in the program, sharpening their skills and gaining confidence as classroom leaders.
The new B.A. Education program allows students to earn dual certification to teach children in grades one to six and children with moderate disabilities in grades pre-K to eight in Massachusetts.
“Our students will work in urban and suburban school districts and learn a wide range of teaching approaches and philosophies,” says Michelle Scribner-MacLean, clinical associate professor in the College of Education. “By the time they graduate, our students will have taught for four years at many different schools and be well trained to excel in their own classrooms.”
A pre-kindergarten to fourth-grade school with more than 500 students, the Murkland Elementary School gives UML first-year students a unique perspective.
“As today’s schools become increasingly diverse, it’s important that we begin early in our curriculum introducing our future teachers to diverse learners,” says Scribner-MacLean. “The Murkland is an amazing local school with students who speak more than 20 primary languages at home.”
“Having a lesson plan in the works already is a great help for me to start acting like a teacher.”
-Education major Nicholas Kerrigan
The students visited the Murkland early in the semester and are in the process of developing lesson plans for first- to fourth-grade classes.
“UML students bring such a genuine, positive energy into the classroom, and they are so excited to work with our students,” says Kevin Andriolo ’01, principal at Murkland School and UMass Lowell alumnus. “They are also very professional and inquisitive with our teachers. We know the partnership with the university is going well because at the end of a visit, Murkland students always ask when the UML students are coming back.”
Nicholas Kerrigan, who transferred his major from business to education, appreciates the opportunity to get teaching experience early in his education.
“Having a lesson plan in the works already is a great help for me to start acting like a teacher,” says Kerrigan. “I think that it is helpful to be exposed to such a diverse school because it shows me that learning is for everyone and they should have the best chance to succeed.” “We are so glad that UML has a new undergrad education program,” says Andriolo. “The quality of teachers we have hired from UML’s graduate school over the years are second to none. Being able to work with future teachers from freshman year on is very exciting for the Murkland School.”
Edward Morante, who transferred to the new program from Nashua Community College, expects that the dual certification will give him an edge in his career.
“Having the dual certification will help me as a future teacher because I know from my own childhood school struggles that many teachers don't know how to deal with learning disabilities,” says Morante.
During his time in the Murkland school, Morante is working with children who speak different languages and children with special needs.
“I appreciate having this contact with diverse learners because it gives me insight into various teaching methods for different types of students, and we learn how to better handle students who come from wildly different cultures,” he says. “Having this classroom experience will help me constantly improve with the help of the wonderful professors at UML and the teachers at Murkland Elementary School, and at other schools down the road.”