It didn’t take Daryl Sewing long after completing her graduate degree in literacy to help elementary school students learn the basics of reading and writing that they had somehow missed. It didn’t take her long to advance.
Sewing completed her master’s degree in literacy at Saint Rose last August and was hired at a district near Houston, Texas, the following month. Now, she has been promoted to team leader of her school’s fifth grade.
“They are moving forward with a literacy program for the whole district,” Sewing explained. “And my degree is really valuable. I think it’s a reason that, only in my second year, they are moving me to team leader.”
At the start of the school year, Sewing was surprised by the third graders in her classroom who hadn’t learned so much as the alphabet. But she also found that the placement tests and learning techniques she had learned at Saint Rose were valuable. She used them frequently, to great success.
“One non-reader switched to my class and struggled a lot,” Sewing said. “By June, he was reading short stories and could write over 100 words. He was my biggest success story.”
The Dutchess County native earned her bachelor’s degree in childhood education from Saint Rose in 2013 and realized that she wanted to teach struggling readers. So when it was time to consider graduate school – a requirement for New York teachers – she chose the Saint Rose literacy program.
Available to teachers with an undergraduate degree in early childhood education, childhood education, secondary education or special education, the program enrolls students in tracks that pertain to their respective levels. With the degree, classroom teachers can enhance literacy across the curricula, become a literacy coach or curricular specialist.
All Saint Rose literacy candidates work in a refugee center close to campus, where they help students from all over the world absorb the written word in order to thrive in a new country. A new class – the only one in the region – emphasizes the growing need to reach English language learners.
The Saint Rose literacy master’s degree also prepares teachers for the Content Specialty Test, which 98 percent pass on the first try. The test leads to certification and a leg-up in the job market.
Sewing was pleased that she could do the program in one year. More important was the unparalleled exposure to students in a large variety of settings. She worked in a literacy clinic on campus, as well as a public school, parochial school and at the on-campus Help Yourself Academy after-school program for local children. She taught a girl from Thailand at the refugee center.
“I experienced so much diversity in Albany,” Sewing said, “that I thought I was ready to try life in a different part of the country.”