A Teacher’s Teacher: Terri L. Germain-Williams, PhD, Makes an Impact Through GSEAP’s Teacher Internship Program

A Teacher’s Teacher: Terri L. Germain-Williams, PhD, Makes an Impact Through GSEAP's Teacher Internship Program

Intern Paul Jarasek ’18 teaching

GSEAP Student Teacher Intern, Paul Jarasek '18

As director of teacher education at Fairfield's Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions (GSEAP), Dr. Germain-Williams works to expand full-year internship opportunities with tuition stipend availability.

When Terri L. Germain-Williams, PhD, learned that GSEAP was looking to hire someone to oversee students studying to be teachers, she couldn’t believe it. “In my role, I get to have that 'big picture' of each of our student teachers, from start to finish. I have always enjoyed helping students meet their goals, so this was a dream job for me. It has turned out to be even more wonderful than I could have imagined,” said Dr. Germain-Williams, who started her position as director of teacher education last January.

Dr. Germain-Williams’ responsibilities include being the point person for fostering partnerships with schools and school districts in which GSEAP students are placed for internships, teaching practica, and fieldwork. That entails ensuring that every student who wants an internship can indeed have one, and also developing new internship opportunities.

Overseeing all of these opportunities is one centralized office with a staff led by Dr. Germain-Williams, who works with Fairfield students from the time they start their respective programs until they graduate. “For students, we are a one-stop shop for services,” said the Meriden, Connecticut native who also attends state and regional meetings to stay informed on the latest issues.

Dr. Germain-Williams began her career in education as a high school math teacher, and later served as an assistant principal and district administrator in New York City. Her enthusiasm for higher education led to a tenure track position at Mercy College. She’s thrilled to be at GSEAP, where she is also an assistant professor of the practice in the Educational Studies and Teacher Preparation Department.

“My objectives include expanding our opportunities so our students have the ability to work at schools, get tuition support, and then continue with their teaching licenses so they can graduate with less debt,” said Dr. Germain-Williams. "Internships are vital in this regard."

While providing a wealth of educational experiences, teacher internships also offer a $15,000 stipend for GSEAP students for a full academic year. Interns fill a variety of roles, including assistant and substitute teacher, and paraprofessional. They also experience the full breadth of a school community. For example, interns take part in key events such as parent-teacher nights, field trips, and graduations, while helping with the opening and closing of their schools and other important daily tasks.

GSEAP student Tina Bonadies said her internship at Redding Elementary School provides her with fantastic experiences in the classroom. “My internship has included observing classes at all grade levels, substitute teaching, professional development, and other learning opportunities.”

Jael Francois, another student who is interning at KT Murphy Elementary School, shared, “As the school intern, I’m all over the building and so far I’ve subbed pre-K through fifth grade and even [for] some special education specialists. It’s awesome to be getting experience throughout the grades.” 

GSEAP also works to ensure that students experience teaching in a diverse array of school settings, so that they interact with children of different ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as diverse populations of language learners and special education students. Meanwhile, Dr. Germain-Williams continues to develop relationships with school districts so that top cooperating teachers are mentoring GSEAP student teachers.

Bonadies explains how she has been greatly motivated by the cooperating teachers she has come to know. “I'm inspired to work harder in my degree program and in my internship because of the dedication of the teachers that I work with each day.”

“[Internships] are such a blessing on both ends,” said Dr. Germain-Williams. “The student teachers are learning and getting classroom tips that they never would have received from a shorter internship experience, and they also have an adult caring for them in the classroom. That is special.”

Tags:  Top Stories,  GSEAP

Last modified: 12-11-18 3:55 PM

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