New York State Teaching Assistant Preparation Program Marks Second Successful Year at Colonie

 Assistant Superintendent of Human Resource and Safe Schools Christopher Robilotti talks to students about career opportunities at South Colonie.
Assistant Superintendent of Human Resource and Safe Schools Christopher Robilotti talks to students about career opportunities at South Colonie.

The South Colonie Central School District announced today the continuation of its New York State Teaching Assistant Preparation Program for the second consecutive year. This initiative has been instrumental in fostering the next generation of educators while simultaneously strengthening the school district’s talent pipeline. The program offers aspiring educators a comprehensive curriculum and practical experience to help them embark on their journey towards becoming certified teaching assistants.

Under the guidance of dedicated educators and mentors, students in the program have the opportunity to take courses that provide a foundation in teaching principles. This year, students are enrolled in “Introduction to Teaching” and the “Exploring Teaching as a Profession” course offered through SUNY Albany, both of which are expertly taught by the program’s lead instructor, Juli Hutchins.

These courses cover a wide range of topics, including curriculum development, classroom management, teacher observation, and practical application through tutoring in the district’s Literacy Center. This hands-on experience also allows students to gain valuable insights into the teaching profession and put their knowledge into practice.

Kristin Mesick, Colonie School Counselor, and Coordinator of the College and Career Planning Center, along with lead instructor Hutchins, meticulously guide students through the entire certification process, ensuring they successfully complete the requisite workshops for New York State Teaching Assistant certification. The curriculum includes vital subjects such as DASA (Dignity for All Students Act) and SAVE (Safe Schools Against Violence in Education) training, navigating the New York state TEACH certification process, and fulfilling other necessary requirements like fingerprinting.

To prepare students for the certification test, the Assessment of Teaching Assistant Skills (ATAS), workshops are provided by Mesick and Hutchins. These workshops equip students with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in the ATAS examination, which they take about six weeks prior to graduation.

Upon successfully passing the ATAS examination, students become eligible to apply for their Teaching Assistant certification, marking a significant milestone in their journey towards becoming educators. 

Notably, out of the seven students who successfully completed the program last year, five were offered positions within the district, underscoring the program’s effectiveness in cultivating skilled teaching professionals.  They were then  assigned to various programs throughout South Colonie based on their academic expertise, grade levels, or the specific needs that aligned with their career path.  As program participants, these students not only began the process of developing a professional portfolio but fostered relationships that will serve them as their path to teaching continues.

“We are thrilled with the success of this program and how it has directly contributed to our district’s teaching talent pool,” said Assistant Superintendent of Human Resource and Safe Schools Christopher Robilotti.  “This program exemplifies our commitment to fostering a ‘grow your own’ approach, benefiting both the students who earn certification and the school district by developing a strong talent pipeline for the future.”

For more information on the program, please contact Kristin Mesick at