School of Education celebrates student excellence

The School of Education hosted its annual Celebration of Student Excellence on May 6 to recognize the Class of 2019 and the students who demonstrate exceptional contributions in and out of the classroom.

The School of Education on May 6 recognized each member of the Class of 2019 and presented each with a gift.

Four outstanding seniors were honored for their exceptional contributions in and out of the classroom with the Arnold Strauch Award. Those honored meet the highest academic standards, demonstrate superior student teaching performance and high levels of professionalism, and have a great potential for contributing to the field of education.


Marcella Mastrocola '19, Elementary Education

(left to right) Marcella Mastrocola and Dr. Katie Baker
In her presentation remarks, Assistant Professor Katie Baker stated, "when the faculty reflected across the four dimensions of the award, each one reflected on how their interactions with Marcella reveal her exceptional commitment to the field and her ownership of deep reflection and growth."

Since beginning her semester at Alexander Wilson, Marcella has helped with extended say field trips, STEAM club, and the student-led Innovation Dinner. "All of this on top of maintaining the expectations and responsibilities of student teaching at the highest level of integrity," Baker said.

Before presenting Mastrocola with her award, Baker shared that she was stopped in the hallway by an Alexander Wilson Elementary faculty member who said they didn't realize Mastrocola was a student teacher. Because of her involvement, the person thought Mastrocola was a new faculty hire this spring semester.


Mirella Cisneros '19, Middle Grades Education w/ Mathematics Concentration

(left to right) Dr. Scott Morrison and Mirella Cisneros
In his presentation remarks, Assistant Professor Scott Morrison mentioned he first met Cisneros in the fall of her first year at Elon.

He has witnessed her evolution during her time at Elon. "Mirella cares deeply about her students, understands her content, and plans interactive lessons," Morrison said. "However, her knowledge and skills are largely the result of hard work. You see, her four years at Elon have not been easy. Mirella has overcome obstacles that many of us only read about. Along with her brother, she is the first person in her family to go to college. The politics of immigration directly affected her and those she loves. She cared for her mother during a serious illness and supported close friends during hard times. Perhaps, most unexpectedly, Mirella was patient and kind with all of us as we learned that we might not be as open-minded, progressive, empathetic, and committed to diversity as we sometimes think. For that, Mirella, we must apologize. You have been a light for all of us, and you have made us better people, a better School of Education, and a better university."

Morrison concluded his presentation by saying, "Mirella, you are receiving this award not only because of your exemplary abilities in the classroom with middle school students; you have been our teacher, and for that, we are tremendously thankful. Congratulations!"

Molly Kearns '19, Special Education and Elementary Education

(left to right) Dr. Mary Knight-McKenna and Molly Kearns
In her presentation remarks, Associate Professor Mary Knight-McKenna stated, "Molly worked diligently to create interesting and engaging lessons targeted to meet students' needs using materials that she made herself. Lessons in both her special education and elementary education settings were differentiated. She embraced the concept of global awareness and it became a consideration throughout her lesson planning."

In addition to her outstanding student teaching in a public school classroom setting, Kearns has excelled academically at Elon maintaining a very high GPA in addition to being a Lumen Prize recipient and conducting research with Lecturer Erin Hone about elementary education teachers' with math anxiety.

As a result, Kearns presented her research at five conferences including the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and has three manuscripts under review in conjunction with Lecturer Hone. "Molly is a shining star," Knight-McKenna said.


Samantha Collins '19, Secondary History w/ Teacher Licensure

(left to right) Dr. Joan Barnatt and Samantha Collins
In her presentation marks, Associate Professor Joan Barnatt read a poem by Sherry Fay titled, "I Am A Teacher." 

In describing Collins, Barnatt said she is "intelligent, knowledgeable, eloquent, innovative, caring, compassionate, dedicated, insightful, hard-working, empathetic, and humble."

Collins has been awarded a Fulbright and will represent the teaching profession, Elon University and her country in Mexico during the coming year.

"This is wonderful because it means I have had the joy and pleasure of working with and now acknowledging one of the very best of our teachers-to-be," Barnatt said. "We celebrate the influence she has already had and the potential she so clearly  shows."

In her closing remarks and with a sense of pride, Dean Ann Bullock congratulated each member of the Class of 2019.