“Learning in Action”: What Alumni Are Saying About the School of Education’s Experiential Learning Opportunities

Experiential learning, applied learning, hands-on learning—no matter what you call it, it means one important thing. By the time they graduate, Syracuse University School of Education students are prepared to teach and lead wherever their degree takes them.

At Syracuse, student teachers enjoy extensive, diverse, and closely guided field experiences—including in high-needs settings—starting in their first year of undergraduate studies. Outside the classroom, SOE enables teachers and other pre-professionals to hone skills with immersive clinical simulations, live-actor interactions that approximate challenging situations in a professional setting. Plus, internships and practicums help make Selected Studies in Education (undergraduate) and Higher Education (graduate) students ready to succeed.

Here, alums tell us in their own words how much they appreciate the close mentorship, the variety of experience, and—most of all—the edge these experiential opportunities give them in the classroom and beyond.

Carol Willard headshot“A prospective student should choose SOE for the incredible amount of hands-on experiences you receive.”
—Rexana Vachereau ’19, G’20, Literacy Education (Birth to Grade 12)


Carol Willard headshot“The School of Education provides more real-life classroom hours at all levels than any other school. Syracuse did a great job preparing me by having me in classrooms all four years of undergrad. I loved being in inclusive classrooms and getting to learn from both general education and special education teachers. Syracuse creates the highest quality teachers!”
—Brooke Cray ’15, Inclusive Elementary and Special Education; G’16, Literacy Education (Birth to Grade 12)


Carol Willard headshot“I learned the most about teaching when I applied my book learning to the classroom. I was very pleased with the amount of time that I was given to experience the classroom before I started student teaching. Syracuse provided quality practicums and an excellent student teaching experience. The connection between the community and the University helped to provide a solid pre-teaching experience that laid a solid foundation for me.”
—Colette “Colie” Williams ’88, Special Education


Carol Willard headshot“I did my student teaching with the Bridge to the City program in New York City. This amount of field experience helped me get where I am today, and the student teaching opportunities gave me a new journey for my life.”
—Kelly Palmatier ’15, Inclusive Elementary and Special Education


Carol Willard headshot“Not only did I have support from my professors, I had a great mentor at my school placement. She was open-minded and let me bring new ideas. I felt well-supported.”
—Emily Liu G’22, Early Childhood Special Education


Carol Willard headshot“One thing I often reflect on is just how well prepared I was to enter my own classroom for the first time. Other new teachers didn’t have half of the classroom experience I had. These early placements are what really made a difference. When interviewing for one position , they told me how impressed they were with my resume.”
—Tara Dunspaugh ’99, Inclusive Elementary and Special Education


SOE Pennant“The School of Education is the only program that truly prepares you to become a classroom teacher! One of the best parts is the countless experiences at different school settings and working with diverse populations.”
—Monica Manne ’12, Inclusive Elementary and Special Education


Carol Willard headshot“The School of Education requires more field placements, tutoring, coursework, and hands-on experience than any other teacher prep program I know of. By the time I started applying for positions, I knew the demands, challenges, and pace of the job, and I had developed the academic background, practical knowledge, desire, and confidence required to lead a secondary classroom in any environment.”
—Matthew Vogt ’03, English Education


Carol Willard headshot“The School of Education places you in a classroom for all of your schooling. It is helpful to see what you are learning in action and the only real way to learn who you are as an educator is to have these real-world experiences. SOE is the best!”
—Jessica Uehlin G’08, Childhood Education


Carol Willard headshot“My biggest a-ha moment was student teaching in the Syracuse school district. You spend so much time learning how to be a teacher and growing your teaching practices but then to have all that hard work pay off when you see the light bulb go on with your students is very rewarding.”
—Shayla Walsh ’22, Inclusive Elementary and Special Education