Jessica Panicola’s daily responsibilities mirror many of her peers in the MAT Art Education program; she gets to the school where she is student teaching by 7:30 a.m., leaves no earlier than 3:30 p.m., and fills the hours in between teaching art to as many as five classes of students in grades 7-12 on any given day.
Unlike her peers, Panicola is fulfilling her student teaching requirement at the Cochabamba Cooperative School in Cochabamba, Bolivia, as the first art education student to complete their student teaching assignment abroad.
“Student teaching abroad is an extra challenge, especially in a country that speaks a foreign language, but it is the most rewarding and enriching experience that I’ve had so far at SUNY Oswego,” she said.
Panicola arrived in Bolivia at the start of the spring 2013 semester. Not only is she the first art education student to complete their student teaching abroad, she is also the only student from SUNY Oswego to be stationed in Bolivia.
“I feel honored to be the first and only student from Oswego here,” Panicola said. “I am living this experience through the culture and language, so I am actually learning just as much, if not more, than my students are.”
Her favorite parts of the experience (so far) include watching the Carnaval parade, a three-day celebration that featured traditional dances, songs and festivals, and exploring the laid back lifestyle that is part of Bolivian culture.
“I feel like this is a much more relaxed lifestyle and I hope to bring it with me wherever I may go,” Panicola said.
Although this tops her list of favorite experiences while in her graduate program, Panicola’s entire time in the MAT Art Education program has been “absolutely wonderful.”
“The diverse range of education and art courses are the puzzle pieces that make up the master art teacher,” Panicola said. “These courses and student teaching placements have fully prepared me not only to be an effective teacher, but to be an innovator in the field of art education.”
Panicola earned her bachelor of fine arts degree as part of SUNY Oswego’s undergraduate art program. By earning that specialized degree, Panicola became eligible for the high quality MAT Art Education program, which only admits students who have earned BFAs.
“Before I was admitted to the program, I never understood why there were such high standards to get into SUNY Oswego’s MAT program,” she said. “Now I know why – those with BFA degrees have a very well-rounded background in studio art and art history, which is absolutely necessary when you will be teaching a range of media, techniques and art history to students ranging in age levels, abilities and cultures.”
The nature of the program allows graduates to embrace their roles both as artists and as educators.
“Getting accepted to the BFA program and graduating from it shows that we are true, innovative artists. The MAT program just teaches us how to teach what we are passionate about,” she said. “In the end, we are predominately artists who are able to be effective and excellent teachers.”
The MAT Art Education program has a deadline of March 1 for fall admission and October 1 for spring admission. Those interested in learning more about the program can request information here.