To get small children to focus and learn, you have to remember a few main principles. First, make it fun, counseled Early Childhood Education major Monica Hollenbeck. And then, make sure you demonstrate to the children just how fun the activity is.
“The more excitement as a teacher you show, the more excitement they will have,” said Hollenbeck, who is graduating this May.
Hollenbeck is a star student at SUNY Broome, and a recipient of the 2018 Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, along with Erin Page and Danika McMurray. After graduating, she plans to transfer to SUNY Cortland and complete both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and ultimately end up in an elementary school classroom.
“My best memories are when I was in elementary school and I want to recreate that for young kids,” reflected the Union-Endicott High School graduate, who prefers the kindergarten through second-grade years.
Early Childhood majors gain hands-on experience by shadowing teachers in the classroom. These days, Monica is getting her hours in at the HCA, where she is experiencing classrooms with high-needs children. She also works with 4-year-olds at St. Anthony’s Learning Center.
Hollenbeck received a good start in her chosen profession at SUNY Broome, and particularly appreciates the guidance and support of professors Lenny Grozier, Chistine Duffy-Webb, Lisa Strahley and Diane O’Heron. The Early Education classroom is an inviting place with an early childhood feel, she said.
At SUNY Broome, Hollenbeck is the treasurer of the Broome Educators of Children Association, or BECA, a club for students interested in becoming teachers. The club’s weekly meetings include many different topics and events, from yoga classes and hands-on activities to presentations on American Sign Language and a visit from international students, who discussed the classrooms in their homelands.
Perhaps fitting for a future educator, Hollenbeck finds herself in service and volunteers for a number of community events, including the Kelly LaBare 5K and St. Anthony’s Feast Days. She also volunteers with A Room to Heal, which creates dream bedrooms for children with serious illnesses. An artist who likes to paint and draw in her spare time, Monica helps design, paint and build the spaces, and particularly appreciates that special moment when children see the room they always wanted.
In January 2017, she joined the Health for Haiti global service learning class for its annual winter term trip to the island nation. While there, she combined her love of teaching with her desire to give back, instructing and working with children in orphanages on arts, crafts and music projects.
“It was a wonderful experience. I definitely want to go back,” she said.
While her SUNY Broome education took her far afield, she chose the college because she wanted to stay close to her family and work. Opportunities to student-teach at local schools – where she someday hopes to have a career – have been an added plus.
“I’m really glad I chose to come here,” she said. “I really like to have connections with local schools. The teachers have been great.”