Pixita del Prado Hill
Professor, Elementary Education, Literacy and Educational Leadership
Associate Professor, Elementary Education, Literacy and Educational Leadership
Rachel earned her Bachelor’s in Exceptional Education and Elementary Education, and is currently in the process of earning her Master’s in the Literacy Specialist program. Rachel was involved as a PDS representative for two years before becoming the Grad Assistant in the Elementary Education department.
“Leadership skills as GA are allowing me to plan, implement and oversee major projects and the team of reps, which allows me to improve my ability and become an asset in any school I will work for,” she said
Through PDS, Rachel looks forward to developing relationships with the reps, faculty members and teacher candidates at Buffalo State. Rachel also says that using academic language with administrators and faculty is helping her develop the ability to interview and participate in educational conversations.
In five years, Rachel sees herself teaching in her own classroom or working as a Literacy Specialist. She also plans to start working towards her doctorate. “PDS will help me accomplish these goals by allowing me to grow as a leader and network with our PDS partner schools,” she said. “By visiting the partner schools during PDS meetings, I am able to learn what is new and innovative in the classrooms and expand my teaching practice.”
Having several chances to attend the National Association of Professional Development Schools (NAPDS) conference has also allowed Rachel to conduct research and present that research in several formats. “This has strengthened my public speaking and peaked my interest in conducting more research,” she said. “NAPDS also allows me to see what schools are putting in place around the nation and world so I can experience more diversity within their programs.”
Besides PDS, Rachel is also a mentor for the Future Teacher’s Club, and a part of the resilience project with a group of faculty on campus, which aims to educate teacher candidates about trauma-informed teaching. “We are also deciding how to bring this to our curriculum at Buffalo State,” she said.
Outside of school, Rachel enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, playing with her dog Bauer, watching all kinds of sports and doing arts and crafts!
When she isn’t working out to relieve stress, Allison Gunkler is hard at work within PDS. Allison, a master’s student in Special Education, hopes to have a full-time teaching job within the next 5 years. She feels as if PDS has provided her with some of the skills she needs to be a better educator, and to succeed as a PDS representative.
“PDS has shaped me as an educator regarding social skills and allowing me to open my world to different opportunities. To succeed as a PDS representative, teamwork and confidence will help you achieve any goal you have.”
Allison says that knowing that she has an opportunity to change students’ lives and have a positive impact on the world of education is what motivates her everyday. She also looks to her family, the most important thing to her, to provide endless amounts of support. When there is something that her family can’t help her with however, her friends at PDS are always there for her. She thinks of the PDS retreat in September 2016 as one of her best experiences as a PDS Rep.
“The Retreat was the first time we came together as a group and really worked together! Because of PDS, I have met wonderful people that I wouldn’t have known otherwise! I have created amazing friendships through PDS. They are the people that I go to when I need a laugh, hug, or somewhere to vent.”
Marilyn graduated in 2017 with her Bachelor’s in Exceptional and Elementary Education. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Childhood and Early Childhood Curriculum and Instruction. Outside of PDS, Marilyn is Treasurer on Student Council for Exceptional Children and a member of Kappa Delta Pi National Honors Society. As a part of the Graduate Diversity Fellowship program, Marilyn also volunteers her time to give back to the community.
As a student representative in PDS for the past two years, Marilyn has developed close friendships with faculty and fellow student representatives. “I have been to many of our PDS schools and learned about different school initiatives,” she said. “The relationships and experiences that I have received has been exceptional and I look forward to being a senior student representative for another academic year.”
Career comes first for Marilyn, and taking advantage of opportunities that will help her become the educator she wants to be is her top priority. In the next five years, she sees herself finishing graduate school and completing her first few years of teaching in an inclusive co-teaching classroom. “PDS helps me accomplish these goals because I get to network with schools partnered with Buffalo State and take what I learn in those professional development workshops with me," she said. "I get to make my name known to principals, administrators, and teachers in those schools. Through PDS, I am provided with an opportunity to conduct research on an education topic of my interest and present it at a national conference.”
Outside of school, Marilyn likes to spend her time volunteering during breaks in between semesters, watching movies, scrapbooking, doing crafts, and trying different recipes!
As a sophomore, Karly already sees how PDS has opened many opportunities for her. Through PDS, Karly is excited to develop friendships with my other PDS representatives and get her name out there in the elementary education department.
“I have been able to meet many education professors at Buffalo State from PDS alone. I love elementary education and PDS allows me to do things in my major other than school work from education classes. Schools will be more likely to hire me when they see PDS on my resume and that is always a perk.”
PDS peps also conduct and present educational research of their choice at the National Association for Professional Development Schools (NAPDS) conference in the spring - research that can then be presented at future conferences to build your resume and professional portfolio.
“I am excited to present my undergraduate research at the NAPDS conference in February. We get to travel to Atlanta for the project, a city I have never traveled to before. My undergraduate research project gave me the opportunity to work alongside a co-founder of a local daycare chain with 15 locations.”
In five years, Karly sees herself becoming a kindergarten teacher or an ESL teacher. “I love young children but I love multicultural things just as much,” she said. Outside of PDS, Karly is also Vice President of Future Teachers Club and member of the Office of Civic and Community Engagement.
Although only in her sophomore year, Kelly is very involved on campus. Outside of being a PDS rep, she is President of the Future Teachers Club, Vice President of the Student Council for Exceptional Children, student representative on the CEURE advisory board, member of the Muriel A. Howard Honors Program, and a recipient of the 2018 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship.
“I am very grateful that as a second year student at Buffalo State I’ve had the opportunity to become so involved in the campus community and step into a number of leadership positions,” she said.
Outside of school, Kelly enjoys trying different restaurants and ice cream places around WNY, going to classes at the gym, and working with children through the Town of Cheektowaga Youth and Recreation Department.
In five years, Kelly sees herself finished with her master’s degree in education and working as an elementary school teacher - whether that be in Western New York or internationally. “I see PDS helping me to accomplish these goes by giving me opportunities to network with other teacher candidates and professionals in the field and do research to further my understanding and passion for childhood education," she said. "In the next year I am hoping to go on one of our international PDS trips which will distinguish me as a teacher candidate and change my life!”
Through PDS, Kelly is excited to develop relationships with people not only at Buffalo State, but also in the WNY community and around the world. “I hope to become more confident in my communication and time management skills. In addition, I look forward to working collaboratively with the other PDS reps and making memories at NAPDS together!”
Amanda is in her Junior year as a Music Education Major, ultimately to obtain her K-12 certification. Through PDS, Amanda is hopeful that she will develop relationships here at Buffalo State and in school districts.
“Being a PDS representative, I hope to learn how to make connections with districts, teachers, and other students,” she said. “I also think that PDS can help me build my professional skills to better my understanding as a future teacher.”
Besides PDS, Amanda is also involved in Buffalo State’s Music Department. She volunteers for events and new student orientation. She also performs in several concerts each year involving the department’s Chamber choir, Chorale, and Philharmonia Orchestra. She is also part of a student advisory board for the Music Department.
Outside of school Amanda volunteers most of her time working with kids. This past summer she worked as a teacher assistant/camp counselor at DoodleBugs daycare center. She also spent a week as a Vacation Bible School crew leader. In her free time, Amanda also enjoys working with plants, gardening, running, and practicing her instruments.
In five years Amanda hopes to have built relationships with some school districts in Western New York. She also hopes to be working in a school either as a substitute teacher or as a music teacher in a high school. “If I could, I would wake up every day and teach music for the rest of my life. In my early education, I had two teachers that became the pillars for me wanting to become an educator. I love music and for a lot of people, music is a key part of their lives in some way. I want to be able to share my passion and build passion in my students. Teachers are caregivers, learners, leaders, and facilitators for learning among many other things. I want to help kids find something in their life that will give them drive and help them succeed.”
Astrid is in the Early Childhood Education program and a sorority sister of Alpha Epsilon Phi. In five years, Astrid sees herself graduating from law school and having her first attorney job in a school district in WNY, being an advocate for students with disabilities rights and accommodations. “My goal and professional dream is to become an attorney for the U.S. Department of Education and continue on to get PhD in neuropsychology of children and education,” she said.
Astrid says that PDS has given her opportunities to get closer to her goal by connecting her with faculty members. “I even found my mentor, Dr. Gliset Colon,” she said. “I am certain that without the PDS office I would not have gotten where I am today - on track to presenting my first undergraduate research and understanding more information about resilience/trauma.”
Astrid hopes that one day more college students understand the importance of doing research, community service and getting involved in their community. “My goal is to inform student teachers that an undergraduate degree in education is just the first step of the staircase. There are more things to do and different ways to help the education community.”
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