School of Education
Farmingdale Pre-K Partnership
Hofstra University’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) Program has taken the mentoring experience a step further by partnering with the local Farmingdale School District and managing the teaching aspects of its Universal Pre-K (UPK) program.
This collaboration gives newly certificated Hofstra education graduates a chance to complete their first year of teaching with consistent professional support. Working with Farmingdale’s UPK grant coordinator, Hofstra’s ECE Program provides staff, supervision, and curriculum. Hofstra early childhood specialist Bonnie Epstein — with the help of her mentoring staff and aspiring teachers — plans a dynamic curriculum, while overseeing the choice of materials, schedule, management, and assessment of the children as well as some of the home/school/community connections.
Every year graduating ECE students are invited to apply for this one-year mentored position. Each morning and afternoon class is co-taught by two partnered, certified teachers. Additionally, 40 or more current students per year are placed in these classrooms to complete their pre-service clinical requirements in a setting that is crafted to reflect best practice as it has been learned in their teacher-education program. Hofstra students not yet graduating are eligible to apply for substitute teacher positions.
The curriculum, which conforms to the New York State Pre-K Foundation to the Common Core, is based on a “Dynamic Themes” approach created by Dr. Doris Fromberg, Hofstra Professor Emerita of Teaching, Literacy and Leadership. This program guides teachers in creating opportunities for children to become independent, caring, and critical thinkers, developing skills leading to academic progress and meaningful citizenship. Dr. Fromberg designed Hofstra’s Early Childhood program and directed it for many years until her retirement from the University. She served on the New York State Governor’s Early Childhood Advisory Council; as past president of the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators (NAECTE) Foundation; and as chair of the Special Interest Group on Early Childhood Education and Child Development of the American Educational Research Association.
Hofstra ECE graduates are observed regularly in Farmingdale — at least once every two weeks. Mentoring provided by Hofstra faculty and program veterans takes place on site and as part of in-service days and online discussion groups. Each year, two to four of the pre-K teachers are invited back for a second year to aid in the mentoring process of the new teachers.
The Hofstra/Farmingdale partnership has proved to be a successful model of collaboration between a school district and a university. Teachers hired for this program interface with both university and district personnel. Since classrooms are housed in the public schools, these new teachers have opportunities to work within the public school system and foster collaborative relationships to expand their teaching repertoire within the support of a closely mentored relationship.