Where can a Keuka degree take you? This is the eighth in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2012.
Chris Mazella earned a master’s degree in literacy this spring, after receiving an undergraduate degree last year in adolescent education with concentrations in social studies and special education.
He is now triple-certified in literacy, special education and social studies, a factor that “thoroughly impressed” the hiring principal at Thompson Middle School in Richmond, Va., where he accepted a post as a special education teacher for students in 7th and 8th grades.
Mazella received invitations to interview for different special education posts in five of the schools within the Richmond Public Schools district after attending a March Teacher Recruitment Day event in Rochester. The Depew resident met representatives from Richmond and stayed in contact after the event. Of the five interviews, he netted three job offers from that district.
But if it weren’t for his first Field Period internship as a freshman, Mazella might never have discovered he was a natural in the classroom. With an interest in journalism, Mazella enrolled at Keuka as an organizational communication major. But his plan to conduct his first Field Period at a newspaper failed to materialize and instead, he found himself exploring the classroom arena.
As they say, the rest is history. He came back to campus, switched his major to adolescent education and never looked back. His work-study supervisor in Keuka’s mailroom was so impressed by the growth she observed over Mazella’s four years that she nominated him for the College’s Experiential Learner of the Year award in 2011.
Mazella said he highly recommends that any student teachers seeking a position out-of-state attend Teacher Recruitment Day, facilitated at Keuka through the Center for Experiential Learning. However, the value of that networking event pales in comparison to “the dedicated faculty that helped us every step of the way,” he said, citing Keuka education professors such as Dr. Andy Beigel, Dr. Pat Pulver, and retired professor Dr. Diane Burke, as well as Dr. Chris Leahy, associate professor of history. Even his student teaching placement supervisor, Thomas Barden of Marcus Whitman High School, helped solidify the kind of teacher Mazella said he hopes to become.
“Without their guidance and support,” said Mazzella, “I would not be where I am today.”
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