Copyright © 2013 by SUNY Oneonta
- 108 Ravine Parkway
- Oneonta, NY 13820
Ashleigh Doxtader has found her true calling, and a new SUNY Oneonta partnership is helping her realize it.
Ashleigh is one of 11 students earning a master’s in special education at SUNY Oneonta through a new partnership with Springbrook, a rapidly growing Otsego County-based agency that provides support for people with developmental disabilities across Central New York. Through this collaboration, teaching assistants working in Springbrook’s new school for children with autism have the opportunity to earn a master’s at SUNY Oneonta, tuition-free. Many of the classes are taught on site by faculty from the college’s nationally accredited Division of Education, and Springbrook will reimburse students for their tuition upon completion of their degree.
“I saw the news in the paper about the partnership and it seemed like the perfect opportunity,” she recalls.
Having financial support made Ashleigh’s long-term goal of going back to school to study special education achievable right now. One month into the program, she is excited about the way in which her SUNY Oneonta classes are complementing her full-time work as a residential aide and teacher assistant at Springbrook.
“I’m gaining so much experience that you can’t get from a classroom, but all of the classroom stuff helps so much, too,” she says, during a coffee break at the Starbucks on campus. “In the classroom, they say, “Do this with the kids.” At school here, it’s, “This is why you do this with the kids. It makes us more well-rounded.”
Though the days are long—sometimes stretching from 9 am to 10 pm—Ashleigh is focused on realizing her dream of having her own special education classroom someday and energized by the daily rewards of her work.
“Some of the kids haven’t been at Springbrook that long, but you can already see positive changes in their behavior,” she says. “To see the progress that they make—that is probably the biggest reward. And to see their personalities: Every one of them is so different from each other. They’re a lot of fun.”
Photo caption: Ashleigh Doxtader interacts with an autistic student at Springbrook. Photo by Michael Forster Rothbart.