“I have a philosophical approach to teaching and learning that has, at its center, the idea that this interaction is a relationship.”

As an alumna of Bucknell's master's in education program, Professor Candice Stefanou, education, says the close connections she made with the University's faculty and their genuine interest in helping her learn inspired her own approach to teaching.

Now it is Stefanou's turn to motivate and inspire.

"It's not an experience easily forgotten," says the scholar of assessment approaches in the classroom. "Whether one feels safe to take risks, to stretch beyond one's comfort zone and to be genuinely engaged in learning depends on the climate the instructor encourages in the classroom."

She makes sure her students experience this dynamic firsthand both as students and then, in Stefanou's advanced classes, as teachers-in-training with children in local school and after-school settings.

There's nothing like firsthand experience when it comes to understanding the wide range of challenges and opportunities that working with children presents, she says. Educating children who fall under the normal behavioral spectrum can be challenging enough, but what about the kids who fall outside that spectrum. Gifted? Challenged? Says Stefenou, "My students get the chance to work with and study all kinds of learners."

And thanks to the new Autism and Developmental Medicine Center, a joint venture between Geisinger Medical Center and Bucknell, Stefanou's students now have the chance to work one-on-one with special-needs children under the guidance of medical, psychological and behavioral professionals on research projects seldom available at an undergraduate level. "I have a philosophical approach to teaching and learning that has, at its center," she says, "the idea that this interaction is a relationship."

Posted September 26, 2013

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