Elementary / Special Education Program
Secondary Education Program
Fairfield University Diversity in Education Program Abroad
Alysha Decrescenzo ’17 (Riverside, R.I.) dreamed of attending Providence College when she was a little girl. Her father graduated from PC and, well, growing up in Rhode Island, it’s hard to not hear about the College frequently. It also didn’t hurt that she attended high school at La Salle Academy, just a few blocks from campus.
Though Alysha thought this childhood dream of becoming a Friar would eventually fade, when it was time to begin her actual college search, she realized she didn’t have to go far to receive a top-notch education. Looking at PC for herself for the first time, she found an environment in which she could thrive and an elementary education program that would thoroughly prepare her to meet her career aspiration as a teacher.
Though she says she wouldn’t change a thing about her experience, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Alysha. Education majors at any institution are faced with a number of licensing requirements by various state organizations. In Rhode Island, one of these includes a review of a student’s SAT or ACT scores from high school. While Providence College is a test-optional institution and believes that a student’s overall high school performance is a better indicator of ability and the potential for success, this same philosophy isn’t shared by all government agencies.
Alysha initially struggled with some of the licensing requirements. At times, she questioned her decision to enroll at PC. She did, however, find a supportive community who helped her along the way. In particular, education professor Dr. Anthony Rodriguez remained positive and supported her efforts, emphasizing that it was important to stick with her major and that her diligence would pay off. It has.
That guidance and belief gave Alysha the confidence to continue pursuing her goal of becoming a teacher. During her sophomore year, she gained classroom experience much earlier than her friends who were studying education elsewhere. She completed her practicum in Pawtucket and North Providence, R.I., while also working, volunteering, and observing a local school’s resource and inclusion room. The opportunity to teach short lessons allowed her to develop her personal teaching style and philosophy.
Her ability to earn quality classroom time as a sophomore helped Alysha have a profoundly rewarding experience studying abroad in Florence, Italy, during the fall semester of her junior year. While many students studying abroad take their general liberal arts courses – Alysha was no exception by taking a cooking class that taught her how to make a delicious risotto – she also had the opportunity to continue developing her major-specific skills by teaching English to a fifth-grade class. She found that she was not just teaching the students but also getting to know them culturally and personally. She also developed skills she would end up using during her special-education practicum in Cumberland, R.I., during her spring semester back in the US.
Now, Alysha is a senior and student-teaching full time at an elementary school in Warwick, R.I.
Every year, Alysha has taught a different grade level, each with its own challenges and rewards. Through the years, the amount of time she has spent in the classroom has increased, which will ultimately prepare her for the rigor of a full-time position. She embraces those times when she feels students have grasped difficult concepts and eagerly anticipates impacting more lives as a special-education teacher next year, and for many years thereafter.