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Erica O’Brien

BS Childhood and Early Childhood Education, Expected 2016

Growing up I always wanted to be a teacher. In high school I had the opportunity to take a program that allowed me to observe in the field of my choice. I observed 150 hours in a sixth grade mathematics class. That experience solidified my desire to be an educator as a career. When it came time to decide what college to attend it was an easy decision. Iona was my number one choice for many reasons – it is the alma mater for some of my family members, located in Westchester with great resources, and has a fantastic education program. I was lucky enough to be accepted to my dream school and dorm at Iona College.

When I entered Iona as a freshman, I lived on a floor with other students who mostly had education majors. This opportunity allowed me to meet other students in my future major and have an RA who was currently in the program. In addition, I was lucky that Iona accepted 12 college credits that I had taken while in high school. This allowed me to take a range of classes and be prepared for my future placements. During my sophomore year, I took my first education class which gave me the opportunity to interact with students at the Iona College Success Center. The Center is a program offered to children in the community for additional help with homework and studies.

Iona College offers students the hands-on experiences that are needed to understand the application of studies. Candidates are placed in schools by their second year in the program. By having the opportunity to be in the classroom, candidates gain knowledge of content, material and management. I have had the opportunity to observe and work in various grade levels which allows me to be knowledgeable about multi-grade levels. My first placement was in Robert C. Dodson School located in Yonkers, N.Y. While at Dodson, I observed and taught in a fifth grade classroom for two semesters. This was the first chance that I had received to apply my studies from Iona into a classroom. While in this placement I realized the valuable information that could be learned from work in the field that is often is overlooked by others.

Throughout my time in the education program I have had the opportunity to develop my pedagogy based on all that I have been taught in my classes at Iona and during my field experience. With small class sizes, I have a support system with fellow students and faculty that allow me to grow and develop as an educator. My opportunities have allowed for interaction with fellow educators, administrators, and students from various backgrounds.

The faculty of the Education Department are individuals who have real life experience in the field. Through their experiences, they are able to show the application of material in the context of how it would applies to schools. Throughout the different method courses students become knowledgeable of the content of the discipline including the Common Core. Within each education course, the professors teach students how the Common Core standards are intertwined in the application of studies.

For my student teaching placement, I had the opportunity to be placed in a local school in New Rochelle that has allowed me to apply all that I have learned while during my time at Iona College. Sidney Hook once said, “Everyone who remembers his own education remembers teachers, not methods and techniques. The teacher is the heart of the educational system.”