Bay Ridge

Fontbonne students shadow early childhood teachers

Visits to St. Patrick Academy yield important lessons

June 9, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Students from Fontbonne Hall Academy got a close-up view of early childhood education during their visits to St. Patrick Catholic Academy. Photos courtesy of St. Patrick Catholic Academy
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Students from Fontbonne Hall Academy spent time this semester following teachers at St. Patrick Catholic Academy around, but the teachers didn’t mind a bit.

As part of a special collaboration between the two Bay Ridge schools, a group of 18 Fontbonne Hall Academy seniors taking a Child Development course visited St. Patrick Catholic Academy to observe teachers in action to get a better understanding of early childhood education.

The two schools are located within block of each other. Fontbonne Hall Academy, a Catholic high school for girls, is located at 9901 Shore Road, while St. Patrick Catholic Academy is situated at 401 97th St.

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The Fontbonne seniors conducted the field-work component of their Child Development course by observing and working with teachers of youngsters in St. Patrick’s nursery school and students in the early grades.

The visits allowed the Fontbonne students to put into practice theories they learned in the classroom. The elective course was developed by Gloria Musto, a social studies teacher at Fontbonne. Musto is also the coordinator of student activities at the school.

“The course is devised to give them a background in childhood development. They were able to observe teachers in a classroom setting,” Musto told the Brooklyn Eagle.

In addition to the classroom visits, the students were required to keep journals and write a seven-page term paper on their observations. “It was a college level course,” said Musto, who developed the curriculum three years ago as an elective course in the social studies department.

The goal of the course was to study the development of children from birth to age 8, Musto said.

The students said they found it stimulating.

“I found being in the classroom to be so interesting,” student Victoria Caggiano said. “I enjoyed experiencing the ‘real-life’ application of everything we learned in class.”  

Andrea D’Emic, principal of St. Patrick’s, said her school was happy to host the high schoolers.

“Our teachers loved having the students come in. The students got to see the development stages of the children and how teachers play an important role in that development. It was wonderful to partner with the high school,” she told the Eagle.

Student Sabrina Sciove said that much of what she learned in the course is also being taught at the college level. She recently audited a class at St. Joseph’s College. “I audited a class in Child Development at St. Joe’s. Everything we learned was being taught in the class. I felt so accomplished having been to St. Patrick Catholic Academy and having this college-level course,” she said.

The program was important for another reason, according to D’Emic. “If we can develop more teachers and encourage young people to go into the profession, that would be good for the future of education,” she told the Eagle.

Musto said the course of study could also be useful for students interested in pursuing careers as nurses and psychologists. Students could also pick up parenting skills, she said.


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