June 08, 2011
Envisioning young children as active participants in their
classroom experiences, two graduate students in The School of
Education at St. John’s presented their work on creative teaching
in the classroom at the annual state conference of a major national
association dedicated to improving early childhood education.
Martha Mancini ‘12GEd and Yezebel Manaloto ‘11GEd
presented in two different venues at the Annual Conference of the
New York State Association for the Education of Young Children ((NYSAEYC), on Friday, April 29,
and Saturday, April 30, in Rye Brook, NY. The association is the
state affiliate of NAEYC, a
major national player in early childhood education advocacy,
policy, practice and standard setting.
The presentations — in a Poster and Graduate Student Panel
Session — drew upon the students’ work on “inquiry projects” with
three- and four-year-olds, a key assignment in an Integrated
Curriculum course taught by their University sponsor,
Rebekah Fassler, Ed.D., Associate Professor in The
School of Education.
Martha and Yezebel are earning their Master of Science degrees
Early Childhood Education. Their inquiry projects — using “The
Project Approach” — encouraged children to take initiative in
examining real-world topics which they found interesting. Martha
explored the Project Approach through The Pet Project and Yezebel
focused her exploration on The Ball Project.
“Our students’ presentations focused on an issue of great
relevance to the way our society educates young children,” said Dr.
Fassler. “The Project Approach they implemented in 2009 and 2010,
respectively, envisions children as active thinkers and
communicators who are capable of discussing ideas, wondering,
investigating, representing and reflecting on their
Martha and Yezebel’s presentations documented these processes. A
teacher, Martha implemented her project in her classroom of three-
to four-year-olds. Yezebel continued use of The Project Approach
during her field work in Martha’s classroom the following year.
Their Poster Session traced the children’s engagement through all
phases of the projects. The Panel Presentation explored qualities
that made Martha’s classroom a hospitable environment for the
The projects’ success reflects The School of Education’s
emphasis on real-world experience. Graduate students in the Early
Childhood Education program represent a mix of people who already
teach and those who are new to the field. The state requires that
all education students complete “field hours” in early childhood
settings before a semester of student teaching.
“We in The School of Education take special pride in providing
our graduate students with hospitable field sites and expanded
roles as they explore and advance in the teaching profession,” said
According to Martha, attending the conference provided “an
amazing array of high-quality workshops” that allowed her to “bring
back many new ideas” to her teaching at Our Lady of Fatima School
in Queens, NY. A
Career Change student, Yezebel said that although she has
previously presented as a human resources professional, sharing her
research at the conference “helped break the ice” in her newly