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Before the Bell Rings

Alumni Teacher Forums Shed Light on Opportunities in a Tough Job Market

by Mark Wilson '08

It’s a well-known fact that St. Joseph’s graduates are highly regarded throughout school districts in the New York region. Whether as teachers, principals or superintendents, SJC alumni have impacted thousands of lives in the districts they serve.

However, despite its renowned teacher preparation programs, the College is not immune to the current state of the economy and the tumultuous job market. That is why, on October 4, St. Joseph’s Office of Alumni Relations, in conjunction with the Office of Career Development, Wellness and Disability Services, and the Office of Public Affairs, held an alumni forum on the Brooklyn Campus titled, “Before the Bell Rings: How to Get Yourself Into the Classroom.”

During this event, alumni, ranging from newly hired teachers to experienced administrators, offered advice and shared their stories with current SJC students and recent graduates. Panelists included alumnae Elena Governale O’Sullivan ’81, principal of I.S. 240; Joan Anderson McMaster ’82, principal of Our Lady of Grace School; Mary Buckley Teatum ’70, an adjunct faculty member at SJC; Temitope Fasoye ’94, director of TLC Early Childhood Center; and Marianne Traviglia Ferrara ’69, St. Joseph’s associate director of alumni relations and a retired public school superintendent.

In addition to these seasoned educators, the panel also included younger alumni, who shared their experiences about dealing with the current job market. Natalie Fascianella Burke ’07, a science teacher at St. Bernadette School, explained how she found her niche when she started teaching in a Catholic school. Alumna Andrea Rosado ’08, who teaches special education at P.S. 7, discussed the importance of broadening horizons. Also included on the panel were Lillian Shmulevich, associate director of St. Joseph’s Office of Career Develoment, Wellness and Disability Services; and Lauren Kraus, a teacher recruitment manager for the New York City Department of Education.

The Long Island Campus followed suit as the Office of Alumni Relations; the Office of Career Development, Wellness and Disability Services; the Department of Child Study; and the Department of Secondary Education hosted “Alternatives to the Classroom” at the McGann Conference Center on October 26. While similar to the Brooklyn event, this forum expanded its scope to include the world of career possibilities that lies beyond the traditional school setting.

Moderated by S. Mary Ann Cashin, C.S.J., and S. Eileen Kelly, C.S.J., of the Department of Child Study, the panel included alumnae Katie Hennes ’10, a Spanish teacher in the Greenport School District; Lisa Gatti ’90, founder of Pal-O-Mine Equestrian, a therapeutic riding program for individuals with disabilities; Janine Mahoney ’92, a special education teacher at Shelter Island School; Andrea Agostino ’00, a sales manager for the Walt Disney Company; and Bridget McCormack ’09, an AmeriCorps volunteer.

Keynote speaker Keith Fasciana ’01, principal of William Floyd Elementary School, urged the aspiring teachers in attendance to commit to substitute teaching several days a week as a means not only of getting a foot in the door, but also of keeping themselves informed of the latest trends in education, which is especially important while not working in the field.

Many of the alumni at both events, regardless of the years in which they graduated, faced a dire job market. But thanks to determination, an open mind and a degree from St. Joseph’s, they persevered. Elena Governale O’Sullivan offered some inspiring words for the students in attendance.

“Hold on to your inner fire,” she said. “You’ll make it!”

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