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Matthew Riddle First Graduate of SUNY Plattsburgh's New Combined Teaching Degree Program

Mathew Riddle forged new ground. Working closely with SUNY Plattsburgh's education department, the earth science and adolescence education major became the first person to graduate from the college's new BA/MST Combined Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science for Teachers program.

Designed to meet the special needs of today's education majors, the program allows students to work on both a bachelor's and a master's degree at the same time. As a result, they save time and money, meeting the state's certification requirements in a very efficient manner.

"I think Riddle's experience demonstrates the wisdom of the program - allowing students to explore an early focus in a content area and then specialize in teaching," said Dr. David Hill, dean of education, health and human services.

Saving Time While Gaining a Quality Education

Riddle, a Mineville resident, transferred into the college from not one - but two other colleges - and didn't decide that he wanted to teach until after his first semester at SUNY Plattsburgh. Even so, he was able to earn both his bachelor's and master's degrees in good time. Riddle completed them in a total of six years.

Students who enter the program as a freshman or a transfer student with less than 26 credits should be able to complete their master's degree in one year instead of two.

At the same time, the classes are designed so that students get out into the field early and are able to see quickly whether or not teaching is for them. According to Riddle, these early experiences really benefited him, helping him to see that he really did want to teach.

"It was a great experience," said Riddle of his time observing a high school earth science class. "I really loved being there. It put the nail in the coffin. I loved the idea of being able to touch people's lives and make a difference."

And Riddle found that his classes really prepared him for his student teaching experience. "They definitely have enough programs in the education department to prepare you for things you are going to encounter," said Riddle. "They do a good job of preparing you."

However, for Riddle, being the first to go through the program had its ups and downs. He was the first to benefit from the program's efficiency, but he was also the one who discovered the imperfections in it.

"In the process of working with the first student in the program, we get to see what parts of our design are working and what parts need to be improved," said David Hill, dean of education, health and human services.

"Because the program was new, it took a lot of patience to get through a few of the quirks," said Riddle, but, he was quick to add, the faculty and staff were very supportive and even came to know him by his first name. "Plattsburgh State was really accommodating and realized that there would be hiccups. I just had to grit my teeth and be patient."

The Future of the Program

Riddle is happy to have forged the way for other students. To them, he said, "Use the opportunity to get the most out of it because Plattsburgh State has a lot of great faculty members. They were always there when I needed them - so take advantage of that."

According to Hill, the future for this program looks bright. A long line of students are queuing up to follow in Riddle's footsteps.

"The program is expanding rapidly," said Hill. "Our enrollments are double this year in the freshman class. We are looking forward to a strong program."

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