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New CNR Program Aimed at Filling Need for Teachers of English Language Learners

March 11, 2017
Professor Juan Peña leads a class in the RESET program

With New York State having the fourth-highest number of English Language Learners in the country, The College of New Rochelle is doing its part to help address the critical need for advanced education for teachers of English Language Learners (ELL) through a new program.  The graduate-level teacher certificate program in TESOL or Bilingual Education, called Rigor for the Educational Success of English learners through their Teachers (RESET), is made possible through a $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The RESET program launched last month with 52 teachers from Westchester and Rockland school districts, including Ossining, Peekskill, New Rochelle, and Mount Vernon, with high populations of English language learning students and limited number of skilled faculty to serve them.

“This is a major initiative to meet the growing demand for teachers who are certified to educate English language learners in the region,” said RESET Program Director Dr. Estee Lopez, an instructor in the graduate education program at CNR. “Our goal is to build a greater capacity of skilled educators in the school system.”

The program will provide full tuition funding for approximately 50 graduate students annually for the next five years, totaling more than 250 graduate students. The College of New Rochelle is currently partnering with Southern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services (SWBOCES) and several public schools districts in the Greater Hudson Valley region, including New Rochelle, Ossining, Peekskill, Eastchester, Mount Vernon, Mamaroneck, Port Chester, Tuckahoe, Yonkers, and Nyack. As CNR continues to build capacity in the program, they have plans to partner with additional area school districts. 

Area school superintendents recognize that the program meets a growing need in their districts. “I am ever thankful for this opportunity to collaborate with The College of New Rochelle, noted Ossining School District’s Superintendent Ray Sanchez. “I know that these courses will help staff ensure excellence for all children.”

“We are extremely pleased to have this opportunity to partner with The College of New Rochelle on this important program that will benefit both our teachers and ultimately our students and aid us in meeting a critical need in the New Rochelle community,” said Brian Osborne, New Rochelle School District Superintendent.

The students receiving this training are quick to acknowledge its benefits. “It’s great to be with other teachers and professionals sharing ideas and best practices,” said Tamara Chilelli, a reading specialist at Eastchester Middle School. “While I’m only a few courses into the program, I already find myself thinking differently and beginning to incorporate my learnings in how I present to my own classes. I’ve learned that I should incorporate a lot more visuals into my lessons, which would help English speakers as well.”

Vincent Gabriele, a middle school French and Spanish teacher in the Nyack public schools, was motivated to enroll by a desire to help students who speak languages other than Spanish. “If the learner is Spanish-speaking, I can help them,” he said. “But what about the learners who speak other languages? I think having an awareness of how people acquire language is important. For those of us who teach language, it can be easy to lose sight of how hard it can be. It’s always good to hear new perspectives on the challenges these students face.”

“RESET creates pathways for teachers in New York State to advance best practices in educating English language learners and is reflective of The College of New Rochelle’s overall commitment to provide innovative educational programming that is responsive to the changing needs of our region,” said Dr. David Donnelly, dean of the Graduate School. “We are pleased to take the lead in providing much-needed professional development to area educators so that they, in turn, are able to effectively serve these students.”