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Posts Tagged ‘education’

Teaching Sign Language in Senegal

Nicole Caparulo makes the sign for "Africa," an arc of the hand from left to right.

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of features on recipients of the Judith Oliver Brown Memorial Award.

Keuka junior Nicole Caparulo of Corning is combining her interests in special education and sign language this month by conducting  a Field Period internship at a residential school for deaf children in Senegal, West Africa.

Caparulo is a unified childhood/special education major with a concentration in American Sign Language (ASL), and discovered the West African school through Martha French,  associate professor of education. A friend of French’s, Dr. Angela Bednarczyk, worked 20 years at Galludet University’s Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center, and now works as assistant to the educational director at the Renaissance School for the Deaf (L’Ecole Renaissance des Sourds) in Dakar, the capital city of Senegal.

According to Bednarczyk, the Renaissance School for the Deaf was founded in 2007 and follows the Senegalese national curriculum with instruction based on the use of the Francophone West African sign language. The school serves 35 students and has five classrooms, five teachers, and a deaf teacher in training. Each year, students attend whose ages range from 4 to 16.

Caparulo said she expects some elements of ASL will carry over to the sign language used in Senegal, but compared it more to a dialect.

“I am very interested in deaf education, special education, diversity and being open and accepting differences and ways to do things. That plays a major part in education, because you need to be able to do things and experience them,” said Caparulo.

“Special education teaching just stands out for me, along with sign language,” she added. “It’s such a beautiful language, how could I not be drawn to it? It’s always been a passion and now I have an opportunity to learn about it. I’m taking advantage of that. (more…)

Polishing Student Teachers ‘Til They Shine

College President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera and Mary Ellen Morgan

The Keuka College Adjunct Professor of the Year makes no bones about her strict supervising style. If a student teacher appears to be slacking off and she knows they can do better, Mary Ellen Morgan won’t let up for a minute.

Indeed, when the Penn Yan resident was called to the stage Dec. 11 during Keuka’s mid-year conferral of degrees, a portion of her introduction included comments from a student whose respect Morgan had earned.

“I absolutely hated Mrs. Morgan … Even as I say this, I love her and everything was for my own good. I grew so much with her help and I always knew where I stood. Her criticisms never stopped, but that was a great thing,” the student wrote.

Morgan said she smiled hearing it, because she knew exactly who wrote it, and knew he was capable of more.

“I know that I am hard on the kids,” she said, using her favorite word for the student teachers under her care, “especially the first couple weeks. I wanted him to achieve and I stayed right on him. [Student teaching] is such a short time frame, I want them to get the best of it, so I come down on them because I want to make sure they get their feet in the doors.”

Since 2001, the Penn Yan resident has been supervising student teachers in Keuka’s education division, meeting weekly with them and their mentor teachers on location at schools across Western New York. Student teachers may work in districts from Waterloo to Watkins Glen to Wayland, perhaps as far as 60 miles from the Keuka Park campus. Morgan first “filled” a spot in the supervisor ranks by a friend who moved to Germany and has been involved ever since. Morgan’s daughter graduated from Keuka in 1988, and Morgan’s family moved to the Keuka Lake area full time in 1996. She has also worked with the College Rotoract Club, affiliated with the Rotary Club of America, and took a group of students to Gettysburg last year for a Rotary conference.

Morgan brings a total of 32 years at Elmira City Schools to her work, having taught seven years at the elementary level and 26 years in secondary level classrooms. During many of those years, Morgan served as a sponsor teacher for a semester for young college seniors completing their student teaching rotations. That’s an edge she believes she brings to her supervisory role.

Meet New Faculty: Alice Harnischfeger

Editor’s Note: This is the eighth in a series of profiles on new, full-time faculty members.

One of the things that convinced Alice Harnischfeger to apply for a teaching position at Keuka was the same thing that convinced many students to apply for admission: the College’s commitment to experiential learning.

“Though we can learn much from textbooks, nothing in the ‘real world’ is textbook,” said the instructor of education, who has been teaching for more than 20 years. “The world offers myriad experiences and Field Period offers the chance to try a career before graduation so the students can get as much out of the world as they can.”

“The College’s philosophy matches my own, and I like the education department, the friendly atmosphere, and the beautiful campus. I also find the College innovative. I am excited to be here.”

Harnischfeger  is completing her dissertation for a Ph.D. in education (with a concentration in teaching and curriculum) at the University of Rochester’s (UR) Warner School of Education.

“I was teaching at Penfield High School while I was a part-time student at Warner,” said Harnischfeger. “But I wanted to have the entire Ph.D. experience, including the opportunity to work on research and collaborate with fellow students more, and the ability to attend informational meetings and lectures more frequently. So, I left Penfield to be a full-time student at the University of Rochester.”

Harnischfeger was “one of those kids who always wanted to be a teacher. The aspect about teaching that is most appealing to me is just simply—and not at all simply—the people. I have always been a ‘people person’ and am fascinated by trying to understand them, both as learners and as individuals.”

After high school, Harnischfeger was told not to go into teaching because she would not find a job, so she pursued a bachelor’s degree in psychology. But the siren song of teaching was too strong to resist, so she volunteered at Rochester School for the Deaf (RSD) before receiving her teaching certification in English, science, and special education.

“I was eventually hired as a teacher at RSD and taught just about everything,” she said. “I taught there for two years and at National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) as an adjunct professor.”

Harnischfeger also taught “everything” at Penfield High School for 16 years, “including special education, English, science, social studies, math, and sometimes health, too.  I guess I’m a real jack of all trades,” she said. “The one continuous area I taught was English.”

Harnischfeger, who has also taught at SUNY Brockport and U of R, teaches Societal Prospective in Special Education and Educational Psychology at Keuka.

As a teacher, Harnischfeger has “always taken student teachers because I learn just as much from them as they learn from me. I love their passion and enthusiasm, and I love how they question things and their creativity. I love working with students new to teaching and I find it exciting for them.”

Harnischfeger’s dissertation is titled Identifying Construction in Relation to School Practices on Students who are Alternatively Placed in a School that is Considered Successful by State Standards.

“I want to focus on kids who have fallen through the cracks,” she said. “These are the students with no ‘label’ and other less-obvious students not recognized by the school. My goal is to always consider diverse needs, including those which may or may not be obvious.

“In schools that are considered successful, there are always a certain percentage of students that are not successful,” continued Harnischfeger. “Those are the kids on whom I want to focus. I want to get my students to understand the definition of diversity includes the full student and their needs.”

According to Harnischfeger: “I try to tell my students to teach the whole person, not just teach the content. This ties back into my research interest of trying to understand how people construct identity. I want my students to assist others in seeing the richness in each person as a unique individual and learner. It also connects to my interest in discerning the boundaries of diversity and in recognizing the resources inherent in our ‘differences.’”

Meet New Faculty: Jack Westbrook

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of profiles on new, full-time faculty members.

Photo by Case Hamilton '12

With 20 years of experience working as a middle and high school math teacher, Jack Westbrook has more than prepared himself for life at Keuka.

Westbrook received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and  master’s degree in mathematics education from SUNY Geneseo.  His first career move was as a seventh and 11th grade math teacher at Harpursville (N.Y.) Central School.  After a year, he moved on to Hilton (N.Y.) Central School, where he taught all levels of math from non-Regents, ninth grade to Pre-Calculus.

Westbrook says that teaching high school math and college math are alike.

“I have actually found teaching here to be more similar to teaching high school than I thought it would be,” he said. I guess teaching is teaching.”

As for the differences, Westbrook says discipline issues are completely different, and the amount of time and effort the students and professors put in are complete polar opposites.

Westbrook chose Keuka for the “smallness” and for the chance to do something new.  He also liked how “Keuka gives everyone a personal touch” and he would like to bring this into his classes.

With many years of teaching expereince, Westbrook hopes to bring a different perspective to his classes that include Secondary Math Methods, College Algebra, Math for Elementary Education, and Developmental Math.  This new perspective comes from Westbrook’s experience with students who struggle with math, and he hopes to be able to help guide them through.

“I also think the wisdom from experience will help me give strong advice and strategies to the students in my Secondary Methods class,” he said.

Even though he is new to Keuka, Westbrook knows how vital Field Period is to the College and he is going to encourage his students to “use Field Periods to get more experience in schools, whether it be volunteering, or just helping out in the classroom.”

Westbrook already wants to do more than his fair share, and he’s eager to dig his hands into the main work of a Keuka College faculty member.

“I’m looking forward to advising students in the future.”

English Professor Wins Professional Development Award

Just because you’ve got a Ph.D. doesn’t mean you stop learning.

That’s the perspective of Jennie Joiner, assistant professor of English, and winner of the 2010-11 Excellence in Academic Achievement award, given by the College’s Office of Academic Affairs. The award recognizes Keuka faculty members who have demonstrated to their colleagues an exceptional commitment to advance the knowledge base of their academic or professional field.

Within the realm of literature, Joiner’s interest includes depictions of masculinity, with a focus on the writings of William Faulkner. Her doctorate, from the University of Kansas, focused on the subject of marriage and masculinity in Faulkner’s fiction.  Here at Keuka, Joiner created a senior seminar course last spring focusing on the fiction of Faulkner and Toni Morrison. The course followed the presentation of her paper, “William Faulkner’s Hearth and Toni Morrison’s Oven: The Slow Burn of Masculinity in Go Down, Moses and Paradise,” in October 2010 at a scholarly conference on Faulkner and Morrison held in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Not only was the class well-received by students, but a longer version of Joiner’s paper was solicited by an editor of the Faulkner Journal and published in August of this year. Another paper of hers, “Constructing Black Sons: Faulkner’s ‘Barn Burning’ and O’Connor’s ‘The Artificial Nigger,” was solicited by the Flannery O’Connor Review last year and published in the 2010 volume. She is already at work on a new manuscript that examines Faulkner’s sexual geographies, or the relationship between place, cultural institutions and sexuality.

“I don’t think students always recognize we have our own research agendas as well. Part of being a faculty member is continuing to be a student and continuing my own education. It doesn’t stop with a Ph.D.,” she said. “What you learn with a Ph.D. is how to keep doing your own research.” (more…)

Washington Monthly Gives College High Marks

President John F. Kennedy would have liked the way Washington Monthly ranks colleges.

“Conventional rankings like those published by U.S. News & World Report are designed to show what colleges can do for you,” say the magazine’s editors. “Since 2005, our rankings have posed a different question: What are colleges doing for the country?”

According to the Washington Monthly College Guide and Rankings, Keuka College is doing a lot.

In its 2012 rankings, Keuka is ranked No. 8 out of 309 baccalaureate colleges in the country. The College was No. 38 a year ago.

“I have been on campus barely two months and in such a short time what I knew about the College has been confirmed by my observations, and the contagious enthusiasm is everywhere,” said College President Jorge Díaz-Herrera. “I’m not surprised we are so close to being the No.1 baccalaureate college in the country. Well done Keuka! I look forward to continued successes and new beginnings.”

The Washington Monthly rankings are based on social mobility, research and service.

According to the editors, one-third of each college’s score is based on social mobility, that is, “how committed are they to enrolling low-income students and helping them earn degrees?” The second category looks at research production and success at sending undergraduates on to Ph.Ds. The third measure focuses on service. “It’s not enough to help students look out for themselves. The best colleges encourage students to give something back.”

In the service metric, Keuka is ranked No. 1 in the country in terms of “community service participation and hours served.”

Keuka has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the past four years.

For more on the Washington Monthly College Guide and Rankings, go to

A Festive Approach

Is it coincidence that the Keuka Arts Festival is held the same weekend in June as Keuka College’s annual Alumni Reunion Weekend? Perhaps not.

According to Festival Director Chris Vaughan, the volunteer committee that oversees it has diligently tried to “cross-connect” the arts fest with Reunion Weekend for the last three years. Organizers are delighted to have faculty and staff willing to hang a few posters on campus and send returning alumni and their families out to the festival site grounds, along the Penn Yan boat launch on Water Street, Vaughan said.

“We just want to let them know there’s all sorts of things to do after they’ve (visited) campus,” he said.

First incorporated in the 80s, the original arts festival was held on the College campus, but petered out in the late 90s for unknown reasons, Vaughan said. Now in its fourth year since Vaughan and his wife helped revive it, the festival boasts some 75 artisans, several wineries offering tastings, an array of festival foods and live music. This year’s event will run 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12.

“Some people make that connection of what we do now as a rebirth or continuation of what was going on there (before),” said Vaughan, adding that the couple was new to the area and had never heard of a prior event when they first took their idea to the Penn Yan Village Board. (more…)

General Peter Pace Challenges Keuka Graduates


Thanks to his eighth-grade English teacher, General Peter Pace, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, learned that conduct was part of his grade in life. That teacher was the late Marion Cutler, a 1952 Keuka graduate.

“Ms. Cutler taught me the difference between capability and conduct,” said Pace.

Years later, serving as a Marine in Vietnam, pausing to consider his conduct prevented Pace from ordering an airstrike that would have decimated a village of innocent women and children.

“Take time to set your moral compass,” Pace urged Keuka graduates during the 103rd commencement Sunday. “You will be morally challenged when, emotionally, you are least prepared to deal with it. Decide for yourself what you and will not do … so that when a challenge does come, you take the three to five seconds to think through (it).”

After giving him a “D” in the first quarter of his eighth-grade English class for “always mouthing off with some kind of joke,” he said, Cutler’s face would pop into his head in later years when tempted to say something inappropriate.

Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Development Jim Blackburn and 2011 graduate Ben Gilligan share a laugh briefly before the 103rd commencement processional.

“The way you conduct yourself impacts everybody around you,” said Pace, who was awarded an honorary doctorate Sunday, along with the late Cutler, who died in March. Pace accepted his award “on behalf of the 2.4 million (soldiers) in our armed forces that make days like today possible.”

The Sunday ceremony was the final one for College President Joseph G. Burke, who is retiring after 14 years. Burke was awarded the title President Emeritus by Melissa Brown, Class of 1972, and chair of the College’s governing board.

Other commencement highlights included:

View More Commencement Photos

Teacher Plans Further Studies

Editor’s Note: This is the 8th in a series of stories saluting members of the Class of 2011. We asked division chairs for story ideas and they in turn contacted faculty members for ideas. We believe they came up with some terrific profiles.

Erin Madigan has always known she wanted to be a teacher. Sure, she debated what grade, learning level and subject she wanted to teach, but she was always convinced her future career would be at the front of a classroom.

It should be no surprise, then, that the Melrose resident will graduate Sunday with a degree in adolescent English and special education. And while Madigan said she will miss Keuka, her friends, and the professors who have pushed her further than what she initially thought she was capable of, she is excited to finish her student teaching semester and start in on her master’s degree.

“I can’t believe I’m graduating already. It’s crazy. I feel like I just started here,” said Madigan, who transferred into Keuka in the fall of 2008, after completing her senior year of high school at Hudson Valley Community College, which granted her freshman college credits at the same time. “I have loved every minute I’ve been here.”

Madigan said she knew she definitely wanted to teach secondary level students and definitely wanted to teach English. She is especially grateful for the three Field Period internships she now has “under her belt, so I won’t be blind for my first experience (leading) a classroom,” she said. (more…)

Experiential Learners of the Year Named

Senior Emmalee Pearce receives the upperclass Experiential Learner of the Year Award from Sally Daggett, associate director of the Center for Experiential Learning.

A bike trip that turned into elementary school lessons and daily observations of state troopers’ work, including undercover work garnered the top awards in experiential learning for senior Emmalee Pearce and freshman Caroline Lennon at the annual Honors Convocation ceremony May 7 at Keuka College.

Pearce, a unified childhood/special education major from Wilson, N.Y., biked some 4,000 miles roundtrip along the East Coast of the U.S. through 13 states in the summer of 2010 and converted her experiences into a specialty elementary instructional plan. Dubbed “Read Across America,” Pearce’s curriculum was crafted to teach students engaging math, science or social studies lessons based on the places she visited along the way.