Cara Accorso '13
7th Grade Math Teacher, Integrated Arts and Technology High School
Four years after walking the halls as a high school senior, Cara Accorso found herself back at her alma mater as a Fisher student teacher where she had the opportunity to work with her ninth grade algebra teacher. And it was her placement in the Rochester City School District where she solidified her teaching path.
Right after graduation, she was hired as a seventh and eighth grade math teacher at School No. 16 and School No. 19, going back and forth between the two schools. For the 2014-15 school year, she taught seventh grade math at the Integrated Arts and Technology High School in Rochester.
"My Fisher education taught me a work ethic I'll never lose and gave me the confidence to become a teacher that others respect. It gave me the stepping stone to be a math teacher. Now, time, experience, patience, caring, and lots of learning will make me a great math teacher."
Devin Guinnip ’17
Devin Guinnip ’17 spent her time at Fisher immersed in teacher education, building her leadership skills through membership in the Council for Exceptional Children and the Teacher Education Society of America.
While completing a summer internship in Haiti, the inclusive childhood education and American studies graduate developed a passion for urban education, and hopes to teach in New York City’s public school system. Devin credits the campus’ personable nature with her success in the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. School of Education.
“Being a part of the education program at Fisher has allowed me to make worthwhile connections and find my true passion,” she said. “The small class sizes and knowing my professors on a first name basis are amazing features that have resulted in a quality education. I know multiple people are personally invested in my success.”
Brendan Hamilton '14
6th Grade Teacher, Tomlinson Middle School
Dover Plains, NY, native Brendan Hamilton's life drastically changed about one month after graduating from Fisher when he learned he landed a teaching job at Tomlinson Middle School in Fairfield, Connecticut. He had just unpacked his life from college, and had to gear up to pack for another move.
While at Fisher, he was a student teacher at two Rochester City Schools teaching 1st, 4th, and 5th grades, preparing him well for his job as a 6th grade teacher. He said his student teaching experiences were all very different, which allowed him to become a more versatile educator who was able to implement teaching strategies to suit his students' individual strengths and needs.
"Fisher sets its students up for success. The faculty and staff motivate and support their students to ensure that everyone can succeed in their courses as well as during their fieldwork placements. Students who study in Fisher's School of Education will not only receive top of the line instruction on campus, but will also be given various opportunities to go out in the Rochester community."
Camille Pensabene ’17
Camille Pensabene ’17 would tell incoming students to take advantage of the opportunities presented in college, even if they are a little outside your comfort zone. As an inclusive childhood education and statistics graduate, she lived that advice all four years of college.
A native of West Genesee, New York, Camille was able to spend time in Rochester area schools, working with pre-school to middle school-aged students.
“I loved the opportunity to go into classrooms and work with kids,” said Camille, who was a member of the College’s Honors Program. “I also liked that I could be creative and develop my own lessons plans.”
As a budding statistician, she engaged in several programs, honing her data analysis and project management skills. In summer 2016, she participated in the Research Experience for Undergraduates and Teachers (REUT) program in Chico California. Working with four other undergraduates, a professor, and a high school teacher, she helped her team determine optimal fourth down strategy in the game of football.
“We utilized play-by-play NFL data to simulate football games while adjusting different aspects of the game of football,” she explained.
After returning from that experience, Camille engaged in an internship at Loretto, a health care organization in Syracuse, working directly with their project manager to collect and analyze data related to ongoing projects.
Antonia Piccirillo ’18
The Fisher family. That’s Antonia Piccirillo’s ’18 favorite thing about St. John Fisher College.
“The Fisher family is truly special and spectacular. Everyone at the College is so nice and incredibly supportive of one another,” she said.
Antonia said it’s the supportive environment that led her to go outside of her comfort zone and join Fisher’s jazz band, Fisher Swingbirds, and theater group, Fisher Players. In addition to the performance groups, she has served as a senator for the Student Government Association and is a resident assistant in Murphy Hall.
Fisher’s welcoming atmosphere also helped the inclusive adolescence education and English major find a home in the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. School of Education.
“What I like most about being an education major is being a part of the close-knit community in the School of Education,” Antonia explained, noting that the History and Philosophy of Education course, taught by Dr. Jeff Liles, helped her articulate her vision for the type of teacher she one day wants to be. “I have always wanted to be a teacher and the professors in the School are driven, helpful, and incredible role models.”
Dominique Recuparo ’17
Middle School Academic Intervention Services Teacher, Syracuse City School District
An inclusive adolescence education major who also studied English at Fisher, Dominique has always wanted to be an educator, and hopes to teach English one day.
“I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. In 4th grade, I asked for an overhead projector for Christmas so that I could play school - and I got it!” she said.
Today, Dominique has achieved that childhood goal. As an academic intervention service teacher, she uses the active reading and critical thinking strategies she learned in her English courses to help Syracuse middle school students improve their reading and writing skills. In her current classroom, she also draws on her experiences as a Service Scholar working in a 9th grade English classroom at East Rochester High School.
“As an English and education major, I was able to help with anything from grading assignments, to planning lessons, to teaching small groups,” she said. “Having this opportunity provided me with the assurance that I was definitely in the right field of study. It also provided me with experience and an excitement for my career.”
A third-year teacher at Rush-Henrietta High School, Cassie Ripley completed her undergraduate degree at Fisher in inclusive childhood education before embarking on a master’s degree in literacy education. She credits Fisher for providing opportunities to develop as a student, a teacher, and a person.
For Cassie, the most valuable element of her graduate program has been the sheer volume of knowledge imparted by the faculty at Fisher, which she says helped her become a well-rounded educator with a solid foundation in culturally responsive pedagogy. She describes the faculty as “incredible” and shares that her coursework at Fisher continues to impact her curriculum design and lesson planning in the classroom. Unsurprisingly, Cassie’s favorite place on campus is Lavery Library, which she frequented for both individual and group work, as well as for the resources available to education majors. Her advice to new or current Fisher students is to be open-minded, take risks, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
Barry Rogenmoser ’18
Prioritize. Prioritize. Prioritize. That’s the advice student-athlete Barry Rogenmoser ’18 has for incoming students. A member of the men’s soccer team, he juggles practice and games with a double major in English and inclusive adolescence education.
“Prioritization is imperative for success in the academic setting, but it is also a huge component of maximizing the college experience,” he said. “Fisher has so much to offer, so deciding what parts of your life matter most and pursuing those parts wholeheartedly is the best way to have a fulfilling and unforgettable experience.”
For Barry, that passion includes English literature, storytelling, and writing, and he credits professors like Dr. Stephen Brauer, who teaches Readings in American Literature, with stoking that interest.
“The texts that were read for the course combined with Dr. Brauer’s insightful lectures resulted in an enlightening and stimulating journey through American literature,” he said. “During this class, I found myself approaching novels, short stories, and poetry from alternative lenses that helped me truly discover the importance and power behind storytelling.”
All lessons Barry is sure to take with him as he pursues a career post-graduation.
“I aspire to be a high school English teacher and work with students in the AP English Literature class, helping them find a passion and appreciation for storytelling and writing,” he said.
Alexa Zappia ’18
From in-class participation to being a leader in several student organizations, you could say that Alexa Zappia ’18 has found the perfect recipe for making her college career count.
As a peer colleague in the First-Year Writing Program, the Williamsville, New York native found a way to both grow as a writer and enhance her knowledge of curriculum development and delivery. Alexa applied the lessons learned as an education major to assist first-year students in their writing class, conducting and analyzing research related to the development of drafting tools in the classroom.
As an aspiring elementary school teacher, Alexa said experiences like that, coupled with the courses she’s taken through the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. School of Education, are preparing her well for life in the classroom.
“Every professor I have had centered their course on the hands-on experience approach,” she said. “Each professor possesses an immense amount of knowledge within the education field. Each course is differentiated to fit the needs of the students which shows us how we should run our classrooms.”
As a Service Scholar and member of the Teacher Education Student Association and Residence Hall Association, she’s managed to balance involvement inside and outside of the classroom. And, in addition to her active participation in student groups, Alexa launched Rocks of Unity, an initiative that celebrates diversity and unity on campus.
“It’s the students, faculty, and staff that make Fisher special,” she said. “The community is really a family and that’s what makes this campus unique.”
Molly Zies ’19
Molly Zies ’19 is determined to “lean in.” The Waterford, Michigan native chose to major in inclusive adolescence education and American studies with the goal of becoming a high school teacher and making a difference in the profession.
“There’s a new generation of teachers coming into the world and we have the power to better it,” she said. “Even if we can only better education for one child, it makes it all worth it.”
As a student in the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. School of Education, Molly said her favorite course was Dr. Jeff Liles’ History and Philosophy Foundations of Education. The course, she said, taught her about evolution of education and made her passion for education grow.
“We always had to critically think and collaborate with one another to find the reasoning as to why things are the way they are,” she said. “I think Dr. Liles’ favorite word is ‘why’.”
When she’s not learning how to make an impact in the field of education, Molly is making one at Fisher.
“I’ve got a strong case of Fisher fever,” she joked. That spirit has translated into positions with the Office of Admissions CORE and Orientation teams and membership in the Residence Hall Association and Fisher Players.
Molly’s advice for students?
“Get involved! Being from out of state, I did not know anyone moving into Fisher and was a little nervous. Getting involved was the best decision I ever made,” she explained. “I met so many great people and made friends who I know will be right by my side for many years to come.”