"Sister Act" of Canadian Education Students

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Buffalo, NY 14214
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Medaille Alum Summer Gemmati Handzlik
        
July 19, 2011 - 2:51pm

Some family legacies center around a secret recipe, an heirloom pocket watch or allegiance to a sports team. But Beth Schott ’11 felt the strong pull of family ties as she decided to follow in the footsteps of her older sisters Katie Smith ’06 and Maggie Baston ’07, and pursue a master’s degree in education as part of Medaille’s Canadian Education Program.

"We have all known that we wanted to be in the teaching profession since we were little,” said Schott. "The main thing that we used to play as children was ‘school.’ Our play room had six school desks, and we each had our own chalkboard and school supplies.” For Smith, her favorite part of playing school was, "writing on the chalkboard, marking my made up/pretend work and wearing high heel shoes (which were my moms and too big for my feet).”

Medaille has offered a graduate program in education for Canadians for over 25 years, which includes certification to teach both in New York State and Ontario. As Buffalo’s largest teaching program for Ontario students, the program emphasizes hands-on learning so graduates are able to start their teaching careers immediately. Schott wholeheartedly agrees with that philosophy. "I have never been so sure of becoming a teacher until I started my classes at Medaille and started actually working in different classrooms,” she said.

Growing up in a family of three girls so close in age and with similar aspirations could have been prime breeding ground for sibling rivalry. Not so, said Schott. "We have all done our separate things, and gone about school in separate ways despite all ending up at the same college,” said Schott. "I find my older sisters more helpful with the process and supportive because they have gone through the same situation, rather than feeling a sense of rivalry.” Baston, the second sister to attend Medaille, acknowledges that she’s relied on her older sister as she went through the program and was being trained as a teacher. "We are all very proud and supportive of each other’s accomplishments,” added Smith.

All three sisters are extremely close and get together frequently. Schott says they even text each other throughout the week to stay in touch.

Smith is a Grade 4 teacher in Oakville, Ont., where she lives with her husband and young son and is expecting another baby in August. Baston is an itinerant teacher for the W. Ross Macdonald School, and travels to visually impaired students in the province who are integrated into regular classrooms, ensuring the tools and support they need to be successful. She was married in December and lives in Brantford, Ont. Schott volunteers at some hometown elementary schools in Brantford while not in class at Medaille. Upon graduation in December, she’ll either start applying for supply lists and jobs or take more courses that will allow her work at the W. Ross Macdonald School with the visually and hearing impaired. "I am excited to work in the field and cannot wait to start teaching,” she said.

I'm grateful for the education I've received.

The instructors were knowledgeable and welcomed class discussions, with
respect for each student's contribution. I've learned how to be a more
effective leader. My capstone class gave insight on how to combine all
the education learned to operate a business. That's when I realized how
much I had sharpened my knowledge.

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