school of education

A Bridge to a Dream Job via the School of Education

Kyle Zhen '20 and classmates at Brooklyn New School.
Kyle Zhen ’20 and classmates at Brooklyn New School during their Bridge to the City teaching experience (Photo courtesy of Kyle Zhen).

Inspired by his AP US History teacher, Brooklyn native Kyle Zhen ’20 knew he wanted to be a teacher when he arrived at Syracuse as a first-year student.

Now a senior about to apply for full-time teaching roles, Kyle looks back over his time at Syracuse and experience in the School of Education (SOE) with gratitude for all that he’s learned and confidence in his chosen career path. Read on to learn more about Kyle and what it’s like to be an SOE student at Syracuse!

Meet Kyle Zhen ‘20
Major: Inclusive Elementary and Special Education (Grades 1-6), B.S.
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Activities: Students of Sustainability, Asian Students in America (ASIA)

Choosing a major
I knew I wanted to be an elementary school teacher – someone who is there for students, considerate, compassionate and teaches kids to be great humans –when I entered Syracuse, so the Inclusive Elementary and Special Education major was a perfect fit.

Students walk in Huntington Hall.
The School of Education is housed in Huntington Hall.

As a first-generation college student, my family really values education. I want to be able to pass on that value to my students, too, so that regardless of their backgrounds, they have the opportunity to achieve their dreams and really love learning.

Cohort-based model
SOE classes are cohort-based, which means you take courses with the same group of students in your major. The cohort model is great because it’s easy to make friends and build connections, and to ask for and offer help from each other. It’s a really collaborative environment.

When you enter the School of Education, you meet with both peer and faculty advisors right away. Your peer advisor is a year or two older than you and can show you around and give you advice on classes. My faculty advisor was great to go to with questions and was quick to respond to me and point me in the right direction no matter what I needed.

Experiential education
As an SOE student, you are working in the classroom as soon as freshman year. From programs like Book Buddies, to observing teachers and teaching lessons in Syracuse City School District, there are countless opportunities to gain experience in the field

Syracuse student working with children in Syracuse City School District.

With these experiences, plus student teaching, practicum work, in-school tutoring, and internships, SOE students log over 900 hours in the classroom by graduation. This is huge, because there is no better way to prepare for a career in education than time in the classroom.

Some of my favorite classes at Syracuse were my teaching methods classes where you learn how to really break down the content you are teaching and the methodology behind it. These classes allow you to really analyze and learn the best way to present material, like adding fractions, to third graders who have never been exposed to it before.

A Bridge to the City
When I was applying to college, one of main things that attracted me to Syracuse was the A Bridge to the City program, which allows education students to complete their semester of student teaching in New York City. Being from Brooklyn, I always knew I wanted to teach in an urban environment like the one I grew up in. I want to give back to my community and help make sure students from diverse backgrounds and immigrant communities have the opportunity to be successful.

Eight students from my cohort completed the Bridge to the City program with me this fall, and we lived together dorm-style at the 92nd Street Y. It’s a great location because its right near Central Park and it’s close to museums and the subway. After being at different placement schools during the day, we could come back and use the gym and cook dinner together, as well as hang out and explore the city on weekends.

During the first seven weeks of the program, I taught 5th grade at the Brooklyn New School PS 146 and during the second seven weeks I taught 3rd grade at Midtown West School PS 212. I loved both of my placements – I got to make meaningful connections with students and teachers and my 5th graders even invited me to their graduation at the end of the year! I loved the experience and would jump at the chance to teach full-time at either of my placement schools.

Advice for incoming students
My first piece of advice is to do your readings and homework! I recommend the 6th floor of Bird Library or the comfy couches in Carnegie as two great spaces to study. 

My second piece of advice to incoming education students is to reach out when you need help. School of Education prides itself on being a collaborative and supportive environment and professors (and your cohort!) are always willing to help and offer mentorship. So whether you’re struggling with a reading assignment or simply have a question or need advice – don’t be afraid to ask!


Why We Applied Early Decision

Lauren Czudak ’19
Psychology, Selected Studies in Education
Livonia, NY

Why did you decide to apply Early Decision at Syracuse?

Syracuse was a top choice for me after visiting my brother on campus. At an Orange Preview, I took a tour of campus and met with staff from the School of Education. I learned about Selected Studies, which is such a unique program that has diverse career options.

I fell so in love with the campus and the school and everything it provides. I felt like I was at home. The school spirit and the fact that the whole community “bleeds orange” truly set it apart. Syracuse offered a significant number of student organizations, strong academics, and it was a good distance from home.

What was it like to receive your notification?

I was ultimately admitted to my second choice program. At first, I was extremely disappointed. But my parents were so proud of me and emphasized how competitive Syracuse is. After 15 minutes it hit me how huge the honor was of being accepted ED. Since I wasn’t admitted to my first choice program, the decision was no longer binding. But I still knew I wanted to attend Syracuse. I even transferred into my first choice once I was a student.

Why should students apply ED?

Make sure that you truly see yourself at Syracuse for those four undergraduate years. It is a large commitment, but if you want to attend this university, it’s worth the pressure. Be sure you have conversations with your parents, counselor, and yourself about the application process. Speak your mind and let your parents understand and support your decision.


Max Josef ’21
Sport Management
San Francisco, CA

Why did you decide to apply Early Decision at Syracuse?

I began formulating my ideas for what I wanted in college while in middle school. I knew I wanted a mid-sized school with a strong sports team. I ended up visiting five colleges, including Syracuse. I ultimately applied Early Decision at Syracuse because I believed it would best prepare me for my future. The Sport Management program is incredibly strong, with .

Mostly, I wanted my decision early. The college application process is incredibly stressful and I just wanted to know where I was going and have a relaxing second semester.

How did you receive your notification?

I thought I would hear during finals week. I set an alarm on my phone for when I received an email from Syracuse. We were taking a practice final in my Pre-calculus class. As I was finishing up my test, the alarm went off. My teacher shook her head and let me go to the bathroom, telling me to “take my stuff and don’t come back if you don’t get the answer you were expecting.”

Why should students apply ED?

I think it’s a lot less stressful. It makes for a more enjoyable second semester of senior year. For me, I thought it was the best course of action because I knew I wanted to be at Syracuse. I think going Early Decision shows your passion in ways that a 1,500 word essay can’t.


Matthew Lyons ’22
Selected Studies in Education
Fair Lawn, NJ

Why did you decide to apply Early Decision at Syracuse?

My cousin graduated from Syracuse, so I heard a lot about the university growing up. It became a true contender in high school, as I was looking for colleges with strong education programs. I visited campus and was struck by how unique the teacher prep programs are in the School of Education. No other school I visited allowed students to have a field placement in the first year.

Syracuse became my first choice. Beyond the impressive academics, I felt at home here. I knew if I got accepted to Syracuse I was going to attend, so why not apply Early Decision? All my application materials were ready to go and it would relieve a lot of stress knowing which college I’d be going to by December of my senior year.

What was the wait like?

The wait was nerve-wracking. You try to put it in the back of your mind, but it’s hard. All my friends who were applying Regular Decision were putting the finishing touches on their applications. But I was dealing with a different type of stress. It was such a relief once I heard back in late December.

Why should students apply Early Decision?

Anyone that is really passionate about Syracuse should apply ED. If the college is your first choice and you can see yourself as part of the Syracuse community, you should apply early. Your application will stand out and it shows your dedication to being Orange.

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Going to New Heights with Syracuse

Meet Cassie Cooper ‘20
Health and Exercise Science
West Monroe, NY
High School:
Altmar-Parish-Williamstown High School
Syracuse University Outdoor Club, Commuter Organization Group

Health and Exercise Science has brought a world of opportunity my way. This past semester, I interned at my former high school helping with indoor and outdoor track and I’ve been able to study in the human performance lab on campus. However, my absolute best experience was spending three weeks trekking to the Base Camp of Mount Everest.

Getting there

The trip started off when my flight to JFK got cancelled. We sped down to NYC and got to the airport with 15 minutes to spare. Our first flight was a 14 hour flight from JFK to Abu Dhabi. We were delayed and missed our connecting flight to Kathmandu. So we stayed overnight in Abu Dhabi, which was fantastic.

Once we arrived to Kathmandu, we met with the Calgary, Swedish, and University of Michigan teams who were joining us and took another flight to Lukla – which has one of the world’s shortest runways. Hold on!

The journey to Base Camp

Our trekking days were long as we went up and down dirt paths. All the locals were incredibly fit and would lug housing materials on their back while wearing flip flops. Meanwhile, we were in hiking boots, using poles, and trying to catch our breath as they sprinted past. At night we stopped at lodges to acclimate. On those rest days, we explored the towns, went shopping, and played cards.

It took us about two weeks to trek up to the Base Camp. I was surprised to see snow on the ground in June! As we passed Gorak Shep to Base Camp, we saw a pack of yaks come through – they’d run into you if you didn’t get out of the way! When we arrived to Base Camp, you could see the Khumbu Icefall and there were tons of prayer flags. We all cheered and took dozens of photos. I went down to the glaciers and stood by one – it was massive. To get down to the glaciers, you’d have to slide through the rocks, but the views were incredible.

Taking a class at 17,000 ft.

Every rest day, we had a lecture. Topics ranged from decrease in oxygen pressure at high altitudes, to the role genetics might play in altitude sickness, to muscle fatigue. We also learned a lot about the culture in Nepal. To be able to see and interact with the culture firsthand was life-changing. With this trip, we experienced firsthand what we were learning. With the oxygen pressure difference, it wasn’t just learning about it but also having to deal with it as you hiked.

What’s next?

I initially thought about being an athletic trainer. But after this trip, I’m thinking more about being a paramedic or first responder for outdoor adventurers.

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Educating the City

Meet Sierra Eastman ‘20
Mathematics Education, Psychology
Hometown: Syracuse, NY
High School: Henninger High School
Activities: SU Literacy Corps, SU Bowling Club, CHAARG, School of Education Peer Advisor, Kappa Delta Pi

How does Syracuse University prepare you to be a Math teacher?

Beginning my freshman year, I’ve had field placements in schools across Syracuse. Early on it’s observational; we see how the students work, and the logistics behind the scenes. I’m getting manageable, hands-on experiences to prepare me for the student teaching I’ll do next year. It’s made me even more motivated to student teach.

Tell me about Syracuse University’s Mary Ann Shaw Center, where you work as an intern.

The Shaw Center, the University’s center for community engagement, has several unique initiatives that go out into the Syracuse City School District. There’s SU Literacy Corps, which tutors students in all areas of literacy, including Math. We also have Balancing the Books which teaches high schools about financial literacy. The Nutrition Initiative teaches students to cook recipes from around the world and increase their nutritional knowledge. Engineering Ambassadors is another initiative that provides hands-on science activities after school.

What’s your involvement with SU Literacy Corps?

We go into local schools and work with a couple of classrooms each week. My first semester, I worked with kindergarten through third grade students. With the second and third graders, we focused on math literacy: doing math facts, flash cards, or similar activities.

How has SU Literacy Corps impacted your Education classes?

Working with SU Literacy Corps has helped my confidence in the classroom during field placements, and given me relevant examples to talk about during class discussions.

Why should students consider volunteer work, such as the initiatives through the Shaw Center?

It’s a chance to get out into the community and be a role model for students.

Why should prospective students consider the School of Education?

The Education community is like a little family, which helps with class discussions as we feel more open to talk about real things. And within that family, obviously, is the staff. They work extra hard to get us what we need and take that extra step beyond the classroom to support us.

What has been your best memory so far at Syracuse University?

My favorite memories have been as a Freshmen Orientation Peer Advisor. Every year for orientation, we all dress up in our matching orange shirts and give our advisees tours around campus based on their class schedule. Ultimately, it’s a big support group, helping freshmen get all of the resources they need to succeed.

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