New partnership for teaching program

Master of Arts in Teaching students now go to the Hitchcock Center for the Environment, in nearby Amherst, weekly.

By Christian Feuerstein

The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree program at Mount Holyoke College is partnering with the Hitchcock Center for the Environment to teach budding educators how to bring lessons about environmental studies and sustainability into their classrooms. 

Emerging teachers in the MAT program will go onsite weekly to the Hitchcock Center’s Amherst campus to participate in hands-on lessons designed to meet the Massachusetts curriculum standards in science for K-12 students. There will be sessions devoted to learning about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and how to create and teach creative engineering and design challenges.

“We’re so excited to be partnering with the Hitchcock Center,” said Ruth Hornsby, assistant director of Mount Holyoke’s teacher licensure programs. “I know of no other teacher preparation program offering pre-service teachers scientific content and teaching skills for K-12 students utilizing a certified Living Building. We are thrilled to extend our program’s emphasis on social justice to include meaningful learning about environmental justice. ” 

The Hitchcock Center’s certified Living Building is a net-zero building that harvests and recycles its own water, uses composting toilets and was constructed with responsibly sourced nontoxic materials. It is the 23rd certified Living Building in the world and the fourth in Massachusetts. 

“It is a wonderful opportunity to have these soon-to-be teachers here at the Center learning how to design inquiry-based engineering and design challenges,” said Colleen Kelley, education director for the Hitchcock Center. “The students are able to take part in the lesson themselves to see how it feels to be the student learning — then modify the model for their teaching purposes. My goal is that they take away innovative ideas to engage students in being critical thinkers and problem solvers that can be transferred to any content area. We call this creating a STEM identity.”

The Master of Arts in Teaching at Mount Holyoke College is a teacher-education program in over 25 licensure areas for aspiring educators with both an accelerated one-year program and part-time options.