New Teaching Assistant Degree Offered by Genesee Community College

NEWS RELEASEOffice of Development and External Affairs

Donna Rae Sutherland, Assoc. Director of Marketing Communications585-343-0055 Ext. 6616

November 9, 2004 BATAVIA, New York - Genesee Community College is pleased to announce the introduction of another new Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree. The Teaching Assistant Program is now available for anyone interested in a career working with students from pre-kindergarten through senior high school. The program is an ideal career opportunity for prospective teacher assistants, current teacher aides, as well as assistants seeking additional skills and professional advancement.

A free information meeting will be held at Genesee Community College on Thursday, December 2, 2004 between 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. in room T119 of the Conable Technology Building for individuals interested in learning more about the Teaching Assistant programs at Genesee, including the state and federal requirements for paraprofessionals.

Teacher assistants and aides are paraprofessionals who perform a variety of functions within schools, often working individually or with a small group of students in classes, resource rooms, technology labs or computer centers. Genesee's new Teaching Assistant program provides a comprehensive sequence of study that is directly relevant to the responsibilities normally assigned to those who provide supportive instruction from elementary school age children to young adults in high school.

"We have designed the curriculum specifically to give our graduates a solid foundation in both liberal arts and sciences, as well as the educational functions of teaching assistants," Christine Belongia, Genesee's Teacher Education instructor and Coordinator of the new Teaching Assistant program.

The program includes three areas of concentration, specifically: general studies, developmental disabilities / learning strategies, and technology. Within these areas, students develop expertise according to their interests and the needs of their current or anticipated job responsibilities. In addition, fourth-semester students complete a field assignment in the community?a culminating experience to connect their formal, classroom-based education to the responsibilities of an educator in a real school environment.

"On-the-job experience is often the most enriching component of earning a degree, and this can be especially true with teacher's assistants," Belongia said. "The classroom dynamics shared by the teachers, students and teacher's assistants can be inspirational and rewarding for everyone."

Genesee's new Teacher Assistant program reflects the higher educational standards demanded by state and national governing bodies. More rigorous certification requirements for teaching assistants have resulted in four levels of paraprofessional licensure, and periodic renewal of licensure will require professional development in the form of additional college course work. Teaching assistants working in schools impacted by specific federal legislation, such as "No Child Left Behind," are required either to attain the equivalent of two years of college course work or an associate's degree. Although para-professionals may demonstrate that they are qualified through an approved certification test, some school districts may require an associate degree as the minimum qualification for future or continued employment.

To accommodate the busy schedules of paraprofessionals who may be working full-time, Genesee offers many of its Teacher Assistant classes online through distance learning technologies. And, while Genesee's new Teacher Assistant program requires 60 credit hours of comprehensive study to earn the Associate for Applied Science degree, it is worth noting that students currently seeking credentials who complete the first 18 credit hours of study will meet the necessary minimum educational requirements for New York State Level II or III Teaching Assistant certificate, or the New York State Pre-Professional Teaching certificate. In addition, completing the first 30 credit hours qualifies students to receive Genesee Community College's Teaching Assistant Certificate.

With these many variables, Genesee's Teaching Assistant faculty are particularly responsive to the unique needs of paraprofessionals and to the progression of a student's career goals. To ensure each student's academic needs are met, academic advisement is a required component prior to registration for the first 30 hours of study for the Teaching Assistant A.A.S. degree.

"We recognize that each student and paraprofessional has a unique goal in his or her own mind," Belongia said. "We try very hard to explain how state and federal laws can impact their aspirations, and more importantly, how to realistically meet their individual goals most effectively."

For further information on the Teaching Assistant degree program please contact Ms. Christine Belongia at 585-343-0055 extension 6278 or or go to