Seven alumni are recognized in six years.

Jonathon Dragon
Jonathon Dragon

September 2017- Drew University had another strong showing in this year’s selection of the best student teachers in New Jersey, with two alumni among the 15 honored by the state Department of Education.

Jonathon Dragon and Noreen Syed—2017 graduates of the master of arts in teaching program at Drew’s Caspersen School of Graduate Studies—earned New Jersey’s Distinguished Clinical Intern Award.

The winners are chosen by an independent panel of educators based on detailed applications that include recommendations from faculty and cooperating teachers. Seven Caspersen alumni have received the award in the past six years (see below), competing against significantly larger teacher education programs. This year’s honorees stand out for both developing original curriculum and excelling in the classroom.

Noreen Syed
Noreen Syed

‘Think like historians’

Before student teaching at Sparta High School, Dragon developed a lesson plan for middle school and high school students to compare media coverage of the origins of the Civil Rights and Black Lives Matter movements. The plan was published in Teaching Social Studies, a peer-reviewed journal of the New Jersey/New York Council for the Social Studies that requires students to “think like historians.”

Dragon, who earned his bachelor’s at William Paterson University and is certified in social studies and special education, now teaches seventh grade at Mountain View Middle School in Mendham.

Environmental learning

Syed helped create an outdoor environmental program at Gill St. Bernard’s School in Gladstone, where she teaches and previously student taught. The program will use the school’s campus, which includes a 128-acre farm, to teach concepts like sustainability to fifth-graders.

Syed, who’s also an alumnus of Gill St. Bernard’s, earned her bachelor’s from McGill University and is certified to teach biology and students with disabilities.

The winners credit the small nurturing environment at Drew for their success. Dragon, for example, developed an invaluable relationship with his mentor, Associate Professor Linda Swerdlow. Swerdlow described both honorees as extremely hardworking and inventive.

Statewide recognition

Seven Caspersen alumni have earned New Jersey’s Distinguished Clinical Intern Award since 2011.

2017: Jonathon Dragon, Noreen Syed

2014: Anna Elson, Gaelan Noel Johnson

2013: Rachel Preyss

2012: Priscilla Sanches Salles

2011: Frank Sedita