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News & Events

In December a poster session and mini-conference titled “Common Core Standards: Best Practices to Support Close Reading and Strategies for High Level Comprehension” was led by graduate students from the School of Education.  The event was co-sponsored by Rockland Reading Council and Rockland Teachers’ Center.  Students from the MSEd. Literacy program presented action research projects, conducted during the semester. After students had the opportunity to engage in conversation with teachers from the area about their work, Dr. Michael Shaw brought the evening to a close with a discussion about “best practices” for teaching close reading.  Visitors commented that they were “impressed with the high quality of work students from STAC produce” and “I have learned a lot from the work presented.”



Three graduate students from the Rockland County chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children attended a lecture at the Simons Foundation in NYC on December 3rd 2014.   Dr. Karen Adolph from NYU talked about her research on how movement in infants provides them opportunities for learning.  Dr. Adolph showed attendees videos demonstrating how movement gives infants opportunities to solve problems, interact with others and learn about their environment.  The Rockland Chapter is a joint venture between STAC and Dominican College. The Council for Exceptional Children is the largest professional organization dedicated to improving the educational success of individuals with disabilities and/or gifts and talents.  Full-time students can join at a discounted rate.

Please see below Forensic Science Camp slides

Forensic Science Camp Part 1

Forensic Science Camp Part 2


Two graduate students from St. Thomas Aquinas College attended and spoke at this year’s New York State Federation of Chapters of the Council for Exceptional Children’s Annual conference in Syracuse on

November 1st 2014. At this year’s conference Joseph Gilson, a graduate student in the MSEd. Special Education program co-presented with Drs. Gajria and Rossi. Their session focused on essential strategies for close reading in the content areas.  He also participated in a poster presentation with his own work on multi-sensory reading instruction for students with dyslexia. Vincent Marinelli, a graduate student in the MST Childhood and Special Education program co-presented with Drs. Finnegan and Mazin in a workshop on effective reading comprehension strategies. For more information about the conference please click on the following link to view the full press release."

Rockland Literacy Extravaganza
The Rockland Literacy Extravaganza is a professional development conference, prek -12, that brings nationally recognized literacy experts to St. Thomas Aquinas College to present keynote addresses on multiple aspects of research-based best practices in literacy instruction. It also offers a menu of 20 interactive workshops on multiple aspects of literacy instruction presented by exemplary local educators. The event generally occurs in October. Learn More

New Program in Art Education
The School of Education is very pleased to announce that it has expanded its graduate degree options to include a Master of Science in Teaching (MST) in Art Education (K-12). Art Educators support the development of visual literacy in school students. The ability to create, use and interpret images is especially important in today’s world, in which visual images are constantly used to communicate messages in the media and in advertising. The program at St. Thomas Aquinas College stresses the importance of high quality instruction in Art that can be used to complement learning in other curriculum areas and prepares school-aged children to use their talents in the workplace.
The MST in Art Education is ideal for people with a degree in Fine Arts who are now considering teaching as a career. The program is total of 36 credits, including a semester of student teaching, and can be completed in 18 months. Candidates can take longer if they wish to do so.
The program includes Art Methods classes at both the Elementary and Secondary levels so that candidates are fully prepared to teach school-aged children in all grade levels. Upon completion of the program, candidates will be able to apply for teaching certification in Art Education (K-12). Candidates will be able to teach in both public and private schools with students of all ages.

STAC Students Attend Teaching Event at United Nations
Sarah Jo Montello, Class of 2016, and Joseph Gilson, Class of 2013 & MSEd candidate, (pictured) recently attended the 2014 annual Committee on Teaching About the United Nations Conference which was held at the United Nations NY). The focus of the conference was on promoting peace through education by examining how the UN and international community confronts threats to peace including climate change, gender and economic inequality, and the large number of children worldwide deprived of an education. Speakers from around the world discussed methods of teaching peace in classrooms at all grade levels. For example, Her Excellency, Ambassador Janine Felson of Belize spoke on raising awareness of the immediate and long-term effects of global warming. A panel discussed what it is like to a child in a war zone and how war affects their ability to go to school. At the conclusion of the conference, Peter Yarrow, American singer formerly of Peter, Paul and Mary, spoke about Operation Respect, a non-profit organization designed to promote civility and conflict resolution into the curriculum of U.S. schools on a nationwide basis, and teaching peace through music.

Joseph, from Monroe, NY, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences with a 7-12 certification and is currently pursuing his master of science in Education degree in Special Education at the College. Sarah, from Kings Park, NY, is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in English with a 7-12 certification.

MST Graduate Received Accolades

Yelena Silverman (pictured), a 2010 graduate of the STAC Masters in Science in Teaching program, is the recipient of the Science Teachers Association of New York State Fellows New Teacher (STANYS) award.  Ms. Silverman is a teacher at Briarcliff High School (NY).  After attending a seminar covering the Next Generation Science Standards, she was inspired to flip a unit on human reproduction and development and involve her students in a full week of bio-engineering investigations aimed at solving a real world oncofertility challenge.  She collaborated with Dr. Emily Hood Ferrin from Northwestern University (IL) on the project and was later invited to present the unit at the NGSS seminar.  She was subsequently nominated for the STANYS Fellows New Teacher Conference Award for 2014.     
 Additionally, Ms. Silverman has been featured as Educator of the Week on  As Ms. Silverman reflects on her studies in the MST Program she comments that, “My professors at STAC instilled in me a deep commitment to inquiry-based science instruction, active student engagement in authentic science practices, and a devotion to the success of all my students.”

St. Thomas Aquinas College will be offering a premier science/math enrichment program this summer for students who will be entering the 6th, 7th or 8th grade in September 2014. This year’s program will focus on forensic science investigations. Students will have the opportunity to analyze soil, hair and fiber samples, blood splatter patterns, fingerprints, and more This program is designed to give potential young scientists the opportunity to develop their interests in the practices of scientific inquiry by:

  • Working in newly renovated, state-of-the-art college science labs
  • Using appropriate tools and techniques to gather, analyze and interpret data
  • Thinking critically and logically
  • Communicating scientific procedures and explanations
  • Using mathematics in scientific exploration
  • Please click here for more information

The Graduate Literacy Program

Reports, B-6 and 5-12, have been posted on the NCATE (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education/ CAEP (Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation) website as national models for preparing literacy specialists. St. Thomas Aquinas College was awarded this honor for in-depth focus on teaching thoughtful literacy to prepare students for Common Core State Standards success, for supporting educational best practices with research, and for  including very strong literacy coaching initiatives in all literacy specialization courses to support and assist teachers to implement exemplary instruction.

Campaign for Artful Resistance: A Celebration of the Arts
The Campaign for Artful Resistance: A Celebration of the Arts is a new initiative for a free family event that celebrates arts education through a day-long festival of performances and hands-on workshops. It takes place on the last Saturday in September from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm and features musical performances, interactive singing, storytelling, hands-on arts workshops, and more. This event is a national initiative organized by Save Our Schools, a national grass-roots organization that is committed to teaching thoughtful literacy instruction in public education that teaches the whole child rather than focusing on scripted instruction and year-long test preparation. We create a joyful arts experiences for children and families of all ages.  Celebration of the Arts Flyer , Celebration of the Arts Schedule .

  1. Passing rates on New York State Certification Exams (from May 2012 retreat data)

New York State Teacher Certification Exams

Academic Program












CST  (Childhood)




CST  (Adolescent)




CST  (Students with disabilities)




CST (Literacy)




CST (School Building Leader)




Summer Literacy Program and Summer Special Education Program
The Literacy program serves as the New York State required capstone practicum for graduate students who are certified teachers to become certified in Literacy. The Special Education program serves as the New York State required capstone practicum for graduate students who are already certified teachers to be qualified for certification in teaching Students with Disabilities. The graduate student teachers work with school-age students who are struggling in reading and writing, grades 1-12. Using evidence-based “best practices” they create an individualized program to increase motivation and achievement for each student based on comprehensive assessments. 

For more information and application Please click here

Summer Literacy Program
This program serves as the New York State required capstone practicum for graduate students who are certified teachers to become certified in Literacy. The graduate student teachers work with school-age students who are struggling in reading and writing, grades 1-12. Using search-based “best practices” they create an individual program to increase motivation and achievement for each student based on comprehensive assessments. Learn more.

Summer STEM Enrichment Program
please click here.

Dr. Meenakshi Gajria, Chair of the Division of Teacher Education and Professor of Education, coauthored a chapter Main Idea and Summarization Instruction to Improve Reading Comprehension in the Handbook of Reading Interventions, published by Guilford Press (May 2011) and an article titled Reading Comprehension Instruction for Students with Learning Disabilities in the April 2001 issue of Focus on Exceptional Children.  She presented at the Annual Convention of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) in Maryland. The presentation was titled Using Content Enhancements to Improve Text Comprehension for Students with Learning Disabilities.  She was also awarded a mini grant to map the curriculum of the Undergraduate Childhood and Special Education program against NY State Quality Indicators for Literacy, Positive Behavior Support and Effective Special Education Practice. 

Dr. Ernest Piermarini, Associate Professor of Education, focuses his research on the role of teacher leaders in public education reform efforts.

Dr. Helene Robbins, Professor of Education, focuses her research on using technology as a tool for educating children in the 21st Century.

Dr. Suzanne Reynolds, Associate Professor of Education,presented at the 39th Annual Meeting of the Research Council on Mathematics Learning held in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her presentation, Preservice Teachers' Analysis of a Textbook Lesson on Volume, was based on research that was supported by a St. Thomas Aquinas Faculty Development Grant. Recently, Dr. Reynolds presented at the New Jersey Education Association annual convention.  The title of the presentation wasDeveloping an Understanding of Fractions.

Dr. Michael Shaw, Professor of Education, was appointed to the Editorial Board of the professional journal Reading Horizons. He has made professional presentations at the annual conferences of the International Reading Association, National Council of Teachers of English, and the Association of Literacy educators and Researchers. Dr. Shaw was the subject of an interview by NBC New York’s Darlene Rodriguez as part of NBC’s “Education Nation,” a special weeklong series that focused on teachers who made a lifelong impact on students. Dr. Shaw was Darlene’s 4th grade writing teacher at P.S. 108 in Bronx, NY. She credits him for inspiring a love for reading and writing that led her to get her degree in journalism from NYU and her success as a news anchor. Dr. Shaw was reappointed as a member of the Editorial Board of The Reading Teacher, a professional journal of The International Reading Association.




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