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Students high fiving a teacher

Published December 18, 2018

School visits provide a real-life perspective of area schools for students

GSE course enhances learning experience for national and international students

The Graduate School of Education offers a dynamic learning environment for students interested in discovering some of the most pressing issues facing education today. Stephen Jacobson, UB Distinguished Professor from the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy, is teaching an ELP 592 (American Education in Global Context) course that helps national and international students develop a better understanding of America’s education system through readings, group discussions, projects and school visits. Jacobson captures the attention of his students by bringing them to area schools, providing a real-life perspective.                                     

“America is a very individualistic country compared to other countries like China and Korea that are much more collectivist countries, so one of the differences that international students notice in area schools is how principals interact with the students,” Jacobson said. “It was a culture shock to international students when they see the principal going around giving students high-fives, and giving them positive feedback because the only time students see the principal in Korea or China is when you have done something terribly wrong or misbehaved.”                                                                               

The most recent visit to Maple West Elementary in Williamsville involved being greeted by principal, and proud alumnus, Charles Galluzzo, EdD  (Educational Administration ’10). Galluzzo is also an adjunct professor in the LIFTS (leadership initiative for tomorrow’s schools) program in GSE. After getting an introduction from Galluzzo, the students were encouraged to explore the school and its classrooms. “Teachers welcomed UB students with open arms, as it was an eye-opening experience to see how the school is building a culture of kindness, diversity and inclusivity,” Galluzzo said. “From a principal’s perspective, it was interesting to hear where different students come from and how different their educational experience was when they were in elementary school in their home country.”                                     

Joshua Skeans, the assistant to the director of the Teacher Education Institute (TEI) in GSE, is a current student in Jacobson’s ELP 592 course and he said the class has been a great experience thus far. “Trips to area schools like Maple West Elementary School are significant because it enriches diversity,” Skeans said. “The teachers from the school were so welcoming and happy to have us, which was a shock to international students because they were not used to that type of behavior from teachers.” Skeans taught English in Detroit for seven years before acquiring his current position. “I wanted to do something different and it was intriguing for me to look at the educational system from a different perspective, as I recently shifted from being a teacher to being a student again.” Skeans said.

According to Jacobson, ELP 592 was originally created for international students, but when the course got cross-listed with the undergraduate course ELP 492, the curriculum was changed because undergraduate students were national and international. This course is intended to help students examine American education’s philosophical underpinnings, policy-making and governance structures. Jacobson loves teaching this course because he has the opportunity to see how enthused his students are to learn.          

“For me, education and teaching the next generation is the most important aspect for me,” Jacobson said. “Getting national and international students excited about this class is what I enjoy the most, as my job is not only to explain the mechanics of their duties as students, but how I can inspire them.”

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