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The Sage Colleges School of Education

The Sage Colleges School of Education has had much to celebrate in the twenty-first century. In 2001, Sage became the first college in the Capital Region, and one of only seven colleges and universities in New York State, to receive accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).


That same year, Sage launched its Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree in Biology, English, Mathematics, and Social Studies. In 2005, an MAT in Art Education was added. And in March of this year, the New York State Education Department and the Board of Regents approved a Doctor of Education degree (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership.


These recent achievements are built on Sage’s long history of preparing highly qualified educators for the children of New York State and beyond. Here is a brief look at the history of The Sage Colleges School of Education.


Between 1921 and 1926, the number of education courses offered at Russell Sage jumped from two to 14. In 1925, the College received full recognition of its work in Education from the State Department of Education, making graduates eligible for the initial certificate for teaching in New York State.


Near the end of the 1930s, Sage hired more Education faculty and appointed a chairperson. Under Professor Edward G. Olsen, Sage revamped curricula and focused on the preparation of secondary teachers, setting the stage for the 1940s and 1950s, when the Education faculty provided courses for students who wanted to teach business, home economics, and physical education as well as the liberal arts at the secondary level.


In the early 1940s, in response to new criteria from the State Board of Regents, Sage developed a four-year sequence for out-of-staters and a five-year sequence for New York residents. Because of the warand subsequent shortage of teachers, the New York students were given waivers for the fifth year to allow them to teach sooner. Eventually, the fifth year became graduate level work.


In 1953, there were two graduate courses in Education, and two program options for undergraduates: Teacher Education-Elementary School and Teacher Education Secondary School (with concentration in a liberal arts field). Professor Doris Merrill, chair of Education, developed the Elementary Education school plan, which became extremely popular. With the acquisition, in the fall of 1956, of a new headquarters with entrance from First Street through the Roy Court passageway, the status of this new venture was assured.


By the late 1950s Sage had record enrollments in classes training teachers of the developmentally disabled; service programs for school attendance officers, dental hygiene teachers and school nurse-teachers offered via Albany’s Evening Division; and a graduate program in Elementary Education. At the 1959 commencement, the first three master’s degrees in Elementary Education were conferred, with one of them going to Doretta Ferber ’39.


When Professor Thomas Treharne became chair in 1960, President Froman announced that students preparing for elementary education would complete a liberal arts major in addition to certification requirements, as was already required for secondary education majors.


Under the chairmanships of Professors Don Willetts, Lawrence Barnett and Frances Healy in the 1970s and 1980s, the Education department expanded offerings in Reading, Special Education, and Early Childhood Education. By 1996, the Education Department had graduate programs in Elementary Education, Guidance and Counseling, Reading, Reading/Special Education, Special Education and Secondary Education, with advanced certificates in Guidance and Counseling and Secondary Education.


It is interesting to note that for several years, there were three different education programs flourishing at Sage: Teacher Education (on which this article is focused), Health Education, and Physical Education. Health Education, which began at the graduate level under Professor Miriam Tuck in the 1970s, became an undergraduate RSC major in 1975 and later, a major at Sage Evening College. No new students were accepted into the RSC program after 1988, although the major continued in the Evening Division for a few more years. Today, Health Education flourishes as a master’s program.


Russell Sage College had a Physical Education major from 1929 to 1994, when it closed for lack of students. With the evolution of Sage Junior College of Albany into the four-year Sage College of Albany came the opportunity to revisit this major under a new configuration.


Since 2002, The Sage Center for Physical Education at Hudson Valley Community College has allowed students—both male and female—to complete the two-year program at HVCC, and their third and fourth years at SCA. The School of Education oversees this completer program.


One of the outstanding aspects of The Sage School of Education today— under the leadership of Dean Connell Frazer—is its community involvement and partnerships beyond the traditional student-teacher placements. Just about every education course has a component that gets Sage students into real-life situations at the beginning of their coursework. Literacy students offer literacy workshops and one-on-one tutoring. In a program called “Lunch Buddies,” at Troy School 12, Sage students share a meal and conversation with grade school students.


The Education faculty and classrooms have been housed in the yellow brick building adjacent to the former Presbyterian Church since Sage acquired it in 1973. The church became the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Center and the former church parish center became the Education Building. In 2003, through the generosity of Lorraine Walker Bardsley ’38, the building was renovated. Known today as the Lorraine Walker Bardsley ’38 Education Building, it remains the center of Sage’s teacher education programs.

Aggie Stillman, Ph.D. Sage Archivist
March 19, 2007

Sage Archivist Aggie Stillman answers questions of interest to RSC alumnae. Write “Ask Aggie” at [email protected].