Graduates and current students of Buffalo State's teacher education programs have first hand knowledge of the ways that our programs, people, opportunities, and experiences shape our students' academic and personal lives. Through the interviews below you can learn about the varied places that our graduates are working, the happenings of our student teacher candidates, the ways in which these amazing individuals are contributing to their communities, and how Buffalo State helped them achieve their goals and dreams. Do you know a graduate or student who should be featured here? Contact Tamara at email@example.com
Ashli Skura Dreher, 2002
Ashli Skura Dreher, a high school special education teacher at the Lewiston-Porter Central School District in Youngstown, was named the 2014 New York State Teacher of the Year.
After obtaining her bachelor’s from Canisius and master’s from D’Youville, Dreher earned a Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Leadership from Buffalo State in 2002, the same year she became a National Board Certified Teacher.
Presently a doctoral student at the University of Rochester, Dreher directs the life skills special education program at Lewiston-Porter and works to place special needs students in internships and to recognize student achievement.
Jessica Elggren, 2008 & 2010
M.S. Literacy Specialist (Birth-Grade 6)
B.S. Early Childhood and Childhood Education (Birth-Grade 6)
Jessica Elggren chose Buffalo State because of the college's exceptional reputation in the field of education. "My entire experience at Buffalo State prepared me for the real world," says Elggren, "I understood the purpose of what I was doing." Listen to Jessica's story at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzS7KjT834ITwo professors significant to Elggren’s growth as an educator are Kim Truesdell and Keli Garas-York.
Dr. Truesdell gave me a strong foundation for becoming a classroom teacher. Her assignments were directly linked to real-world tasks, she ensured that we knew the important terminology, and she helped us develop effective lesson plans. Dr. Truesdell helped me to become a reflective teacher. To this day, after each lesson I teach at Windermere Boulevard School, I take time to reflect on what was successful and what could be done differently to maximize student learning and success. Dr. Truesdell’s belief in my abilities, as well as her passion for teaching literacy, motivated me to apply for the Literacy Specialist Master’s Program at Buffalo State.
Dr. Garas-York prepared me to be a capable and confident teacher of reading and writing. Throughout my graduate coursework I used assessment kits and strategies in teaching reading comprehension, and was provided articles and resources that familiarized me with the most current research and practices. She showed me how to assess, diagnose, and provide intensive remedial instruction to struggling readers and writers.
I truly believe that it is because of these two women that I have the career that I have today. I have never worked so hard in any class as I did as a student of Dr. Truesdell and Garas-York. They motivated me to work and to learn, they had high expectations and provided valuable feedback, and they are incredibly brilliant and dedicated to the field of education and teacher preparation. I have a high level of respect for these two outstanding professors at Buffalo State.
Holly Hudson, 2011
B.M.E. Music Education
"Buffalo State is THE place to be if you want to teach anything!" Holly Hudson came to Buffalo State after years away from the classroom and was pleased to find faculty and staff that provided her with exceptional support, encouragement, and content knowledge. "All of my faculty were at the top of their field. The sense of community I felt in the Music department was awesome and inspiring." Hudson credits her ease with students and at the front of the class to the many hours of hands-on classroom experience that teacher candidates engage in well before their final semester of student teaching. Her advice to future teachers: "It can be very frustrating to find a job or feel like you are making a big difference. You will learn a lot in your first years of teaching but, Because of Buffalo State, you will be prepared for it. Remember the passion that drove you to be a teacher and don't let that flame be extinguished!" Hear Holly Hudson share her story at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5sCV3q11b8
Tellis Lott, 2010
B.S. Elementary Education & Reading, Grades 1-6
"Because of Buffalo State...I am a teacher." Tellis Lott believes that the extra time Buffalo State's teacher candidates spend in real classrooms provides them with invaluable experiences and confidence that makes our education students excel in their own classrooms after graduation. Lott teaches second grade at School #4 in the Rochester City School District. Hear Tellis Lott share his story at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4N2UOhC32o
Jill Lewis-Spector (Grodney), '65
B.S. English Education
NJCU News Press Release: February 23, 2012
Dr. Jill Lewis-Spector of Highland Park, a professor of literacy education at New Jersey City University, has been elected to a three-year term as an officer of the International Reading Association (IRA) that begins with the vice presidency and concludes with the position of president of this 70,000-member international organization.
One of the world’s largest educational membership organizations, the IRA is dedicated to promoting reading by continually advancing the quality of instruction and research worldwide. With chartered councils in 60 countries and more than 1,000 communities around the globe, the IRA is the world’s foremost expert on literacy.
Dr. Lewis-Spector was first elected to the International Reading Association Board of Directors in 2004 and has been chair of the IRA’s Government Relations Committee and President of its LEADER Special Interest group. Dr. Lewis-Spector was also president of the American Reading Forum and chair of the Teacher Education Division of the Association of Literacy Education and Researchers, both natio nal organizations.
In New Jersey, Dr. Lewis-Spector served on the New Jersey Commissioner of Education’s Task Force on Middle School Literacy and New Jersey State Council for Adult Literacy Education Services. She has served on the Governor’s Task Force on Early Literacy and co-chaired New Jersey’s initial project for developing the New Jersey Core Curriculum Standards Framework for Arts Literacy.
She has also served on the Long Range Planning Committee of the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education’s Quality Team, Community Advisory Board of New Jersey Network, Teacher Quality and Enhancement Statewide Consortia Advisory Board, Education Committee of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, and the Reader Evaluation Panel for the New Jersey Department of Education’s New Jersey Reading First Grants.
Internationally, Dr. Lewis-Spector was the technical director and lead volunteer for the Secondary Education Reform Activity program in Macedonia and worked in Kazakhstan and Albania for the IRA/Soros Foundation’s Reading and Writing for Critical Thinking Project.
Dr. Lewis-Spector is the author of Academic Literacy: Reading Strategies and Background Essays (4th ed.) and Essential Questions in Adolescent Literacy. She was lead author of On the Frontline: Advocating Effectively for Your School, Your Students, and Your Profession; Adolescent Literacy Instruction: Policies and Promising Practices; and Reading Success for Struggling Adolescent Learners. Dr. Lewis-Spector has also written numerous peer-reviewed articles on professional development, advocacy, and content area reading and has been a featured speaker at many state, national, and international conferences.
A member of the NJCU faculty since 1973, Dr. Lewis-Spector has served as chair of the Department of Literacy Education and director of the Henry J. Raimondo Institute for Urban Research and Public Policy. She has directed the Community Outreach Partnership Center (Housing and Urban Development) at NJCU and was a founder and trustee of the University Academy Charter High School.
A former public school teacher, Dr. Lewis-Spector holds a bachelor of science degree in English education from Buffalo State College (SUNY), a master of arts degree in reading education from George Washington University, and a doctoral degree in educational theory from Rutgers University.
A non-profit global network, the IRA supports reading teachers and other literacy professionals by providing professional development resources, advocating for policy and practices that benefit all teachers and students, and conducting research that promotes informed decision-making about literacy practice in the classroom. The IRA’s many publications and peer-reviewed journals, including Reading Research Quarterly, provide coverage of research-based practices for the classroom and ideas and reflections on literacy from around the world.