Three Drew University MAT Alums Named New Jersey Distinguished Clinical Interns

Natalya Cespedes G’24, Skylar (Patricia) Gregory C’23, G’24, and Sarah Perry C’23, G’24 claim the award

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Natalya Cespedes G'24

May 2024 – Three alums in Drew’s Caspersen School of Graduate StudiesMaster of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program have been named among the top 15 Distinguished Clinical Interns by the New Jersey Department of Education.

Since 1985, the educator preparation programs within New Jersey’s teacher training institutions have been invited to submit the dossiers of their three most outstanding teacher candidates into competition for this award. 

All three interns submitted by Drew, Natalya Cespedes G’24, Skylar (Patricia) Gregory C’23, G’24, and Sarah Perry C’23, G’24, were awarded the honor with distinction.

One student earned the distinction in 2023, three in 2022.

“Drew’s school partners are always impressed with our interns,” said Kristen Turner, professor and director of teacher education. “They are talented, but they are also reflective learners, always willing to put students first. The three award winners from Drew exemplify our commitment to diversity, justice, and lifelong learning. We are proud of them and in awe of their effort as educators.”

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Skylar (Patricia) Gregory C'23, G'24

Gregory, who completed Drew’s Dual-Degree in Teaching, interned at Phillipsburg Primary School in Phillipsburg, NJ, as a second grade in-class resource. “Throughout my clinical internship, I learned so much from my students, my cooperating teacher within the Phillipsburg School District, and my field supervisor from Drew, Dr. Carol Baker [Education adjunct professor],” she said. “Dr. Baker observed me teaching multiple lessons and provided me with feedback that I believe helped me grow more and more as a teacher. The students taught me how much kindness affects the way students learn.”

“Drew’s incredible one-year accelerated program allowed me to receive the experience and knowledge necessary to be a confident and ever-growing educator,” said Cespedes, who interned at the Academy for Performing Arts for Theatre and the Union County Vocational-Technical High School for Psychology. 

“During my senior year of undergrad, I decided I wanted to become a teacher,” continued Cespedes. “However, I was extremely anxious about finding a program that would simultaneously provide me with a background in education that also suited my values and needs. I am so happy to have found Drew where I received incredible support and real-world experience that I can say have truly prepared me to enter this wonderful profession. I am forever thankful to the amazing faculty and staff who have allowed me to reach this point.”

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Sarah Perry C'23, G'24

Perry also took advantage of Drew’s Dual-Degree in Teaching. Their clinical internship took place at Morristown High School in Morristown, NJ, where they taught African American Literature. “After learning from Dr. Devereaux [Assistant Professor of Education] and other Drew MAT professors about culturally responsive teaching and teaching diverse students, I felt confident in navigating teaching the topic of African American literature and engaging with the material and my students in a way that allowed me to learn from them as well.”

The award was a direct reflection of the learnings of Drew’s MAT program and the valuable hands-on experiences gained as clinical interns.

“I had the privilege of seeing each and every one of my students grow, and they all taught me how to believe in myself as a teacher,” said Gregory. “I am so honored to have received this award, and I could not have done it without each of my students and everything I learned throughout the last year.”

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