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Bloomfield College Partners with the Bloomfield School District

Dr. Rohena with her students at Bloomfield College

By: Alicia Cook

Bloomfield College and the Bloomfield School District have joined forces in the creation of a unique internship for the College’s special education majors.

Dr. Elba I. Rohena, Associate Professor at Bloomfield College and Ms. Karen Thomany, Supervisor of Special Education Programs at Bloomfield School District, are finishing up the first semester of a partnership that placed four Bloomfield College students into classrooms for students with autism at Oak View Elementary School.

Ms. Thomany coordinated with the Bloomfield School District teachers and administration to make the program possible.

This venture had the look and feel of a hybrid program with the four students splitting their time between classroom observations and lecture hours. The students completed assignments and actively participated in instructional activities in an active classroom under the guidance of three Bloomfield School District teachers, then met on-site with Dr. Rohena each day to reflect on their challenges and successes. This blended approach helped the students connect their first-hand experiences to theories of instruction for special education students.

“Instead of hours spent sitting in a college classroom listening to lectures, we were able to place our students in actual classrooms” said Dr. Rohena. “The most valuable part of this venture was the real world application of the book theories.”

This newfound partnership, which does not count towards their student teaching hours, has delivered authentic experiences to future special educators.  This program has undoubtedly enhanced their skills and dispositions to be effective teachers while, at the same time, has provided additional assistance and support to the Bloomfield School District’s Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) teachers and their classrooms.

This is a perfect example of the ongoing collaboration that is consistently happening between the College and the community.

“This was a true team effort,” said Dr. Rohena, noting that both the College and Oak View worked together each step of the way and even shared office space at the elementary school.

Both Dr. Rohena and Ms. Thomany hope to continue and even expand this program into other schools within the Bloomfield School District next school year.