Canisius Alumni Adopt Griffs

December 11, 2020

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BUFFALO, NY - When Professor of Teacher Education Marya Grande, PhD, put a call out to her former students for help, the response was overwhelming.

You see, Grande was concerned about her pre-student teachers who were “having a tough time” figuring out how to teach virtually and still connect with their young students. “There have been some tears and frustration from our student teachers that kids don’t log on or don’t seem to be paying attention,” explained Grande to Canisius alumni who follow her on Facebook. “We have done our best to prepare them but as you know, we have all been learning as we go and this is not how they pictured student teaching.”

Grande called upon her 150-plus alumni followers to consider adopting a Griff by sending a student-teacher an encouraging message of support or words of advice. The response was more than Grande imagined and each of her student-teachers, as well as student-teachers in similar Canisius programs, received an Email or video message of support from at least one alumni educator – some of whom event sent virtual gift cards to the future educators! Below are a couple examples of letters alumni sent to students.

Meaghan Jimenez ’04, an exceptional student services lead at Arete Preparatory in Gilbert, AZ wrote the following to student Anna Kraus:

Hi Anna,

You have no clue who I am, but I was one of Dr. Grande’s students (cough, cough) about 16-17 years ago!  She recently posted in one of our Facebook groups about how student teaching is not what this student teaching cohort expected.  Girl! I cannot imagine!!! She asked that we “adopt a Griff”, so I jumped at the opportunity.

I wanted to let you know that teaching is seriously the most rewarding job I could ever imagine.  I have been through a lot in my almost 17 years of teaching and I wouldn’t change a thing.  I taught in the Buffalo Public Schools as a HS Inclusion, Self-Contained and Resource teacher for 11.5 years.  I saw violence, lack of (perceived) parent involvement, teacher drama, crazy administrator turnover, etc.  Then I met my husband and moved to Arizona.  I  teach in a wildly different environment that now includes parent/student entitlement, mega money, a curriculum I struggle to understand (think Plato in 2nd grade), and parents thinking that their kid shouldn’t fail even when they don’t do work or attend class.  All this to say that I look back and think wow – that stuff was (is) easy compared to the new world we’ve been dealt.  You are NOT alone if you’re thinking teaching online is tough, and possibly that you’re getting the short end of the stick.  What I can tell you is that you will definitely be a better teacher because of it. 

I taught online for the first time starting in March.  Trying to figure out the curriculum, work with the teachers, students, parents, administrators, etc was NOT easy.  Its still not easy! It is a little different down here as we are back on campus full time with about 70% of our students. My teaching responsibilities mostly include resource room and, out of the 5 classes that I teach 3 of them are hybrid.  I am teaching kids through Zoom at the same time as managing kids in person.  I come home at the end of the day thinking “Have I done all I can do for the kids? What could I have done differently? Better? Faster? Slower? Did I include everything I would have in person? Did I forget anything? Anyone?” The list goes on…

I tend to ramble, but I want you to know you are NOT alone! Even us old teachers are struggling.  In fact I could probably learn a thing or two from you – especially with regards to technology – Lord help me!  

Keep it up, Anna.  I know you will do well and once life returns to “normal” again you will be thinking “wow – this is a breeze”

You’ve got this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ian Lewis ’04, a third grade teacher in the Lake Shore Central School District wrote the following to student-teacher Olivia Harvey:

Good evening Miss Harvey.

My name is Ian Lewis, and I am a teacher in the Lake Shore Central School District. I am also a good friend of Dr. Grande. I remember my student teaching year being challenging, but I’m sure it is nowhere near how crazy your year is going. 

I’m reaching out for two reasons. One, I am pursuing my dream as an educational leader, and I have made it my mission to offer myself as a resource to any young educators brave enough to make a name for themselves in this game. Two, I wanted to let you know not to be discouraged. We were not built for virtual education, especially for young and emergent students, however, if you do have the heart for education, you certainly were built for perseverance, challenges, and victory. 

That being said, I want you to know that I am here as a resource to provide assistance, suggestions, modeling, and/or mentorship. Please feel free to reach out and respond. I have had great success this year and last with virtual teaching (I teach 3rd grade, and my students have made incredible gains). My district does virtual Mondays, so if you are interested, I would love to have you join us to watch how the class runs, and even discuss and break it down afterwards. 

As a ten year vet, I know that I craved more feedback and more exposure than what I got from my cooperating teacher when I student taught, so I would like to be that option for you. 

I look forward to hearing back from you soon. Have a great day, be blessed, and remember that you are made for great things, and if you have persevered this far, this is but one more obstacle to overcome in order to reach your dreams! 

Submitted by: College Communications