50th Anniversary Interview: Dr. Christine Buel

Dr. Christine Buel is the director of the Master’s degree for Childhood and Special Education. She has worked at Nyack College for 30 years and has served as an Academic Development Specialist HEOP and an Assistant Professor of Childhood Education.

For those of you that don’t know, part of the School of Education’s mission involves following their SALT model (Service, Academics, Leadership, and Teaching) to prepare future educators, as well as to further develop current ones. The SALT model involves the whole person, not only when the individual is in the classroom. (To learn more about the SALT model, click here.) This SALT model not only affects the curriculum and how it is taught at the college, it affects those who teach it.

Dr. Buel said that the SALT model, specifically the Service aspect, has affected her the most. She enjoys building into her students, praying with them and having them over for meals. She has also shared her passion for the Nyack Homeless Project and Soup Angels, and she has had students serve there with her. Additionally, she brought students with her for several years to the One 2 One Tutoring Center in Nyack to minister to immigrant families.

Being a part of the Nyack School of Education community is something to be proud of for everyone, but especially for Dr. Buel, who has worked to shape it and mold it for the past 30 years. She said that she is, “most proud of watching career changers enter into the School of Education at Nyack and making profound changes in their lives.” Not only that but she also enjoys, “helping them pass the New York State Assessments and negotiating the state requirements.” Throughout her time at Nyack, Dr. Buel has, “seen many changes in the school, such as the addition of the Masters program in childhood, special education, and TESOL.” She has also, “seen the hiring of many wonderful adjuncts to enrich our program.”

Dr. Buel would like to see the School of Education continue to grow and change, and her “vision for the SOE includes strong collaborations with schools serving special populations of students.”

When asked what advice she would give her younger self, she said:

The advice I would give myself is that teaching is fluid and never the same from year to year.  Learn to be flexible and look for the blessings of newness.  I would also work harder to help new Christian teachers understand their rights in the public school classroom and encourage them to be a witness in large and small ways.  I would look for teachers who reflect Christ in how they set up their classroom communities and I would showcase these classes.  

 

On The School of Education and its 50th Anniversary: An Interview with Professor Kristen Luba

     For those of you that don’t know, this year marks 50 years since the opening of the School of Education here at Nyack College. In honor of such, I have interviewed several of our School of Ed’s faculty and gotten their insight and perspective on the college, what changes they have witnessed in the School of Ed, and what being a part of the School of Education means to them. I hope you will join me these next weeks as we take a look back on where we came from and where we are headed as an institution.

– – –

     Professor Kristen A. Luba, M.A. has been the Director of Assessment for the School of Education (SoE)  since 2008, but she has been working for Nyack since 1996 when she was a student assistant in the library.  After graduation in 2000, she began working full-time for the School of Education as the Administrative Assistant.  In 2006, Prof. Luba was promoted to Assistant to the Dean of Education for Assessment and Field Experience. Seeing as Professor Luba has been a part of the staff for over 20 years, she has watched and helped the School of Education to grow and flourish into what we know today.

     When asked what major changes the SoE has experienced, Professor Luba said that, “the number of certification programs available to candidates and the degree of difficulty in qualifying for and completing the programs,” has changed remarkably since she started back in 1996. She continued:

Back in the day, there were only Bachelor’s programs in Elementary Education, Music Education, and Secondary Education (English, Math, Social Studies).  Shortly after came the addition of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and Early Childhood Education and then a boom in Master’s level programming–Inclusive Education, then Childhood Special Education, then Childhood Education, then the move of TESOL from undergrad to grad level.  Programs began to be offered at both campuses and online.  There have been some recent shifts in scaling back programs because of reduced enrollment, but the field of education has had many enrollment shifts over its history in this country, and I expect numbers to increase again as the pendulum swings.

 

     Professor Luba also spoke about the changes that the state of New York has made that have impacted teacher candidates, specifically those changes that have made life more difficult for teacher candidates:

Students used to take two State exams (Liberal Arts & Sciences Test and the Assessment of Teaching Skills-Written) and be able to get their certification and a job, but the State soon added a third test (Content Specialty Test) and then increased the rigor of the first two tests (Academic Literacy Skills Test and Educating All Students exam) and added a fourth exam–a portfolio that required theoretical underpinnings for lesson plan decisions, data-driven decisions for instruction, student work samples, video evidence, and so on–called the edTPA.  Now the State has taken away the ALST but increased the rigor of the CSTs.  The net difference between 2000 and now is two more rigorous exams plus a portfolio exam!

 

     Things have changed not only for the students, but for the faculty and institution as well. Because of all of the changes from the state, the School of Education had to adjust their programs to better prepare the students for their certification exams, as well as the changing classroom. Since Professor Luba’s start at the SoE, “field experience hours have increased to 100+ prior to student teaching.” This means that teacher candidates are better prepared for their student teaching, though it does sometimes seem like a strain on the student’s schedule. Another change is that New York State, “added required workshops on violence prevention and Dignity of All Students Act and a requirement for a 3-credit course on educating exceptional learners, all of which the faculty accommodated.” Since Professor Luba’s arrival at the School of Education, New York “has also mandated national accreditation, which has meant the school’s redesign of curriculum, increased rigor in assessments, the addition of the Assessment of Dispositions, and stricter policies on admission.” This meant that the school changed from open admission to strict entrance requirements (50th percentile on SAT/ACT/GRE and a high school or previous college GPA of 3.0+).

     One thing that hasn’t changed in the School of Education is the faculty’s care and devotion to the students and to each other. This Christ-like attitude is one of the things that makes Nyack’s School of Education unique, but there are many other aspects that make it stand a head above the rest:

The diversity available in the college and local community is special.  The hard-core commitment of the faculty to train candidates in current methodologies and terminology is special–they don’t base their teaching on classroom experiences from 20 or 30 years ago!  The commitment to God is special and it reveals itself in classes, in departmental chapels, and even in email conversations and advising sessions.

 

While Professor Luba has had a large impact on the School of Education, it has impacted her as well. She said this about the matter:

Since I have ‘grown up’ in the School of Education for my entire adult life, I would say it has had an enormous impact on me.  Although there are many things I could say, these things mostly fit two categories: personal transformation and skill development.  I used to be a bit shy and insecure, but God has used my time studying under and working with the faculty in the School of Education to provide the encouragement and opportunities I needed to push my personal barriers and grow in confidence.  The faculty are not afraid to ask tough questions in a loving way in order to propel your growth.  At the same time, the context of education and educator preparation has been an ever-changing landscape over the last two decades.  This has provided many obstacles and many opportunities to rethink and reinvent processes and procedures within the SOE.  As a behind-the-scenes contributor, my skill set has grown so much in the use of a variety of technological platforms, in working collaboratively with school partners, in developing new assessments, in analyzing data sets, in writing reports at the institutional, state, and national levels, and so on.

Lastly, Professor Luba left one piece of advice for future Christian teachers: “Keep following God’s path for you.  It might not head the direction you think it will, but it will always lead to transformation along the way and to rest in the right destination.”

 

Is Nyack the Place for You?

To everyone questioning whether or not they should call Nyack College their home next semester:

I can’t answer that question for you, though I wish I could. It would make things a lot simpler for both of us. Knowing the answers to tough questions would also make my finals a lot easier. Alas, I do not have that ability and am forced to stay up late cramming the night before and wing it, just like everyone else. (Yes, even the Ed. major doesn’t always practice the best study habits. It’s okay. Just don’t tell my mom.) Even though I can’t tell you exactly where you should go, I can tell you that I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all college. If it were that easy, no one would be panicking towards the end of high school every time someone asked them where they would be continuing their education. Luckily for me, God let me know relatively early on that Nyack was the place for me. Crazy, I know.

My college decision was easy for me the minute I first set foot on campus, and it was one that I was fully confident in after time spent in prayer. For me, Nyack felt like home as soon as I arrived, though my journey getting there wasn’t all that smooth.

If I’m being honest, I initially wasn’t too keen on the idea of coming to Nyack. For starters, it was impossibly far from home (my mother wasn’t a big fan of that bit, either). Additionally, it wasn’t one of the colleges I had considered or heard of before God spoke to me. Since I was in elementary school, my family and teachers had been telling me that I would be famous one day because of my intellect, and that I was to remember them when I was a CEO or running the UN. That was a lot to put on a kid, but I took it on anyway. In essence, I was being prepped for a prominent, pompous college so that I could make a lot of money, not so that I could grow in my faith and become a teacher, and a missionary no less. But none of that grooming mattered to me when I first visited Nyack.

I found a sense of peace and serenity, a sense of belonging, when I arrived on campus. Although I am sure that being surrounded by the beauty of Rockland County and the Hudson River helped, I know that that is not the only contributing factor. The love and joy that radiates from the staff and student body is something that I have never experienced at another college or university. The levels of care and commitment that our professors exhibit are truly remarkable, and they make me proud and feel privileged to call Nyack College my home.

Nyack is not going to be found on a “Top 5 Ivy League Schools” list, but it is on my list of “My Top 5 Favorite Places” list, as well as “Places that Feel Like Home.” Nyack helps me grow as an individual and as a Daughter of God, and those are things that I value more highly than anything else in a college. Nyack makes me proud to be a Warrior, not only for the college, but for the Kingdom.

So, dear student, I don’t know where you belong. But I never doubt where I do.

Warm regards,
Your favorite dinosaur

Top 5 Community Service Options for Teacher Candidates

In my last post, I talked about the requirements regarding admittance into Nyack’s School of Education. This week I would like to expound upon that a little more and give you some ideas regarding your community service hours.

Each teacher candidate must complete at least 30 hours of community service with the given age group for their specific certification. I, for instance, am an Adolescence Education major, so I will be spending my time with 7th-12th graders. I know that I specifically wish to teach middle school, but I do not have to stick with middle schoolers for my community service. In fact, the group that I’m serving doesn’t have to be comprised of only those within my certification age group; there can be some elementary schoolers and other ages in the mix as well. There real focus is on spending time with my certification group.

If you aren’t sure what ages/grades your certification covers, check out my last post.

After speaking with the Dean of Education, Dr. Looney, I comprised a list of some common community service activities that Nyack’s education students have done, as well as adding a few suggestions of my own.

1. Go to Church!
As a Nyack student and child of God, I’m hoping that you are an active member in a church. Serving in the body is one of the most common ways that Nyack students serve their community. Depending on your major, serving in the nursery or Sunday school can be an amazing way to complete your 30 hours. Some opportunities within the church include:
-Sunday school teacher
-Youth group helper
-Kids ministry volunteer

2. Help with VBS
Many churches have Vacation Bible School (VBS), and this would be an excellent opportunity to gain experience. If you are not yet comfortable enough to be responsible for a group of small humans, this might be your best bet. Since this environment is filled with men and women who are experienced children’s ministers, you can look after and teach children while being looked after and taught yourself.

3. Become a Camp Counselor
There is undoubtedly a camp near you that is in need of counselors this summer. Bonus: You get to be filled with nostalgia and relive those amazing summer camp days while helping kids create their own! (I didn’t really go to camp, but I’ve heard stories about the amazing memories and nostalgia thing).

4. Become a Coach
I have been volunteering with Ambassadors Football for several years now. They are an international soccer organization that uses soccer to share the Gospel. I have joined them both as a summer camp coach and an intern, and I recommend the experience to all of my fellow footballers. They are still taking applications for summer soccer coaches. The kids range from age 6-16, so it’s the perfect fit for nearly every major. For more information, check out their website.

5. Become a Tutor
There are students everywhere in need of help, and you are the perfect person for the job. After all, that is going to be your future job. You can find a tutoring center near you this summer, or you can be a tutor at the Nyack Center, a community center with an after-school program for local students.

Whatever experience you choose, go into it with an open mind. Throughout my years as a coach, VBS teacher, miscellaneous volunteer, etc., I have found that I learn as much from my students as they learn from me.

Why I Chose Teaching as a Profession

People have been asking me what I want to do with my life since I came out of the womb, and even more frequently since I graduated high school. I’m sure that you know how that goes.

I knew what I wanted to do, at least in part, since I was a small child, and that passion hasn’t changed. I have always wanted to become a teacher, and I cannot imagine doing anything else, nor do I think that anything else would bring me as much joy as the classroom does.

Even though I knew teaching to be my calling, I had tried to convince myself otherwise, convince myself to pursue another career path, but it was to no avail. When I was in elementary school, I tried to convince myself that I wanted to be a chef. I would get to be around food all day, and that seemed amazing! I even went to a cooking school that summer. (I now make an amazing cavatelli and Bolognese from scratch, in case you were wondering.) I learned from an amazing woman, and I will never forget her. The reason I will never forget her is for her teaching, for her passion and ability to teach that to others. My desire to become a teacher was reaffirmed with her.

Years passed before I had truly given extensive thought to my career path again. Sitting in Mrs. Durieux’s 9th grade English class, I was assigned to choose the top three careers that I would be interested in pursuing. Naturally, my first choice was teaching. Second was Cytotechnology, something in the medical field to appease my mother. The third was pediatrics, which I didn’t even remember I chose until I looked up the paper right now. (Are you amazed that I can still find the file? Because I certainly am.)

I chose the other two careers to appease others and their hopes for me, not because they were things I truly wanted. Sure, I love the science that was required for the other careers, but that love in no way compares to my love of the classroom and students.

I’m not going into education to make the kind of money a doctor does. (But if anyone knows how to make that kind of salary happen, feel free to contact me.) I’m going into education for my future students, to shape and guide them the way my teachers have shaped and guided me. I can say without a doubt that I would not be the woman I am today without my educators, those who taught me not only about their subject matter, but about life and what it means to be a decent human being.

I chose teaching primarily because I believe it to be the calling that God has placed on my life, but also because of how highly I esteem it. Furthermore, few things bring me more joy than watching the light go on in a student’s head when they finally grasp a concept- not even my first cup of coffee in the morning. Although perhaps an even better feeling would be when a student doesn’t look at your classroom like it’s a prison, but like it’s a home. And that is my main aim as a future educator.

Meet Dr. Nichols

Hello Everyone,01066

I’d like you to meet someone who has been a big part of my life at Nyack. Meet Dr. Nichols. He’s the Chair of the Adolescent Education Department at Nyack College, and if you’re an Adolescent Education Major, chances are you’ll find yourself in some of his classes, wind-up in his office for advisement, and you’ll also get to hear some interesting stories from his years of experience in our field. Meet Dr. Nichols:

  1. How Did You Come to Work at Nyack College?

I had just retired from working for thirty years in the public school system, and decided that I really wanted to try working in a Christian college environment. Fun fact, my first day of teaching at the college was at the Manhattan Campus. I’ll never forget that day, because I had been stung by a yellow jacket (I’m allergic), and I had to teach my first class on crutches. That was quite a day.

 

  1. What is Your Favorite Part about Teaching at Nyack?

That’s easy. It’s the students. I love working with the Christian college students here, and am constantly amazed at the Christian values of our teacher candidates.

 

  1. What’s Something Interesting/Random that Students Might Not Know about You?

In eighth grade I was the spelling bee champion at school.

 

  1. If You Could Design and Teach any Course What Would it Be and Why?

I would love to teach a course on practical writing. It would be a College Writing course designed specifically for future educators, and would focus on the kinds of writing so prevalent in the world of education. We would focus on things like lesson plans and the like. It would be all about real life writing.

 

  1. What One Piece of Advice You’d Like to Give Students?

I have two pieces of advice, really. My first piece of advice is to work smarter not harder. My second piece of advice would be specifically for Education Majors. Always realize that schools are for learning, not teaching. You have to figure out as a teacher how to create the best environment for learning.

 

  1. What’s Your Favorite Quote?

(He started singing this one). That would be Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

 

Thanks for listening, everyone.

Now you have officially met Dr. Nichols. Welcome to the Adolescent Education Department at Nyack College.

Top Teaching Program Nyack Education

Keeping Friends and Schoolwork in Balance

I’m smiling a little as I write, because this is a topic I’ve had to learn through tested disaster. It’s something I began to figure out as I started to grasp what my priorities were in college. The reason I’m in college is to study, to gather an education that not only gives me information, but also transforms and challenges my personal thoughts. The two departments that have become my life here at Nyack College, the Education and English Departments, have a real understanding of how to teach students in a personally challenging way.

Through all of this, it is my prayer that we may serve Christ through our academics, as we holistically serve Christ in and out of church buildings and worships services. I came to college with this belief, but I also came to college wanting to make friends. This became a conflict. My first semester I struggled between spending the majority of my time in the library and trying to hang out with friends. I want to share a couple things I learned about balancing the two: 

  1. You’re a Student First, Social Butterfly Second: I am so glad you have friends, but if your grades begin to slip because time with friends is cutting into study time, then reflect on your priorities. Your decisions in this area can decide issues about scholarships, whether or not you will be allowed to remain in your major, or even if you will be able to stay at school. Think about it.                                                                                            
  2. Relationships are Important: Alas, I must admit that I am an introvert. Some people are surprised at this, but it’s true. I can spend an entire day by myself and be content, but college has taught me the value of relationships. Find friends. Find a few good ones who don’t drag you down. Find friends who think being a student is important too. People tend to rub off on each other.                                                                                     
  3. Figure Out Who You Can Study With: I made mistakes with this my first semester. People would be like, “yo, you wanna study with us tonight?”, and I would beam and say “yes”. We would usually end up watching more Youtube videos on cats than doing homework. As my major began to require more work, I realized this wouldn’t work. I really enjoyed these people, but studying with them became unrealistic. Hanging out with them was fine, but it was better to leave the textbooks in my room when they asked me to study.               
  4. Headphones and Soundtracks: I discovered that putting in your headphones and listening to movie soundtracks, was an excellent way to be able to study in groups and still be productive. Three-fourth’s of my college homework has probably been to “Concerning Hobbits” on the Lord of the Rings soundtrack. Embarrassing Truth.                                                                                                                                                               
  5. Separate Study and Hangout Times: There are times when you need to focus and study. No talking. However, there are also times when you need to hangout with people, fully look them in the face, and have an undistracted conversation. Homework can distract from this. This is why I decided to never (almost never) bring homework into the cafeteria. I wanted time to focus on people, not textbooks.

Friends are one of the best parts about college, and your experiences with them are what you’ll remember after graduation. My advice is to keep your friends and your schoolwork in balance. If one area of your life is negatively affecting the other area, than have an honest time of reflection with yourself. Make changes. I messed up a lot in this area my first couple semesters, but eventually I began to get it. Balance having fun in college and studying can be difficult, but completely and totally worth it.

Ask us about our Christian college! Get information today.

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