Carlow's Education Department


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Undergraduate student in Early Childhood Education, Raynelle Winstead, leads PreK students through a Reggio-Emillia inspired science lesson at the Campus Lab School.

A Note From the Chair

Happy November!

We are thrilled to present our first Education Department newsletter. Every month, the newsletter will include highlights, news, special invitations, and a different theme with related feature stories. This month, our theme is all things Apprenticeship!

Our Education Department has had an exciting two years. Since August of 2017, we have:

Been awarded more than 3 million dollars in grants

National Science Foundation (NSF)

C.W. Benedum Foundation.

Anonymous Foundation

PNC Foundation
PNC Charitable Trust

OCDEL and PA State Department of Education, and others

Hosted national authors/speakers and trainings

Dr. Fania Davis, Restorative Justice

Mr. Don Wettrick, author of Pure Genius

Mr. Alfie Kohn, author of multiple books including Punished By Rewards

Learning Without Tears® Handwriting Workshop

Creative Curriculum®

Welcomed the largest freshmen/transfer and graduate education classes in seven years.

Launched first four-year apprenticeship program in early childhood education with approval from U.S. Department of Labor

Created pre-apprenticeship partnerships with Pittsburgh Public Schools and Nazareth Prep High School.

Created a Laboratory School with our Campus School (for Birth through 8th grade!)

AndLaunched graduate programs in Secondary Education, Art Education, Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership with Principal Certification, and Early Childhood Supervision


But the best is yet to come!

I love our Carlow community and amazing faculty, staff, and students. It's my privilege to serve, teach, and lead here. Come visit us soon!

Dr. Keely Baronak
Chair, Education Department
Executive Director, Campus Laboratory School

Preparing Educators and Leaders since 1929

We believe in the transformational power of education. We celebrate diversity, champion social justice, and work tirelessly to address issues of equity in education. Our conceptual framework of Scholar Practitioner comes alive through coursework, practicums, research, and community-based service. Whether you are a recent college high school or college graduate, mid-life career changer, or a veteran educator, we invite you to join us.

Recent Workshops & Trainings

Early Childhood Apprenticeship Program!

Carlow University's Education Department has worked with the early childhood community of Western Pennsylvania to create the first Department of Labor approved early childhood bachelor’s apprenticeship program for both certification and non-certification seeking early childhood professionals working in child care centers in PA. "According to data collected by Partner4Work, there is a substantial need for credentialed early childhood educators—and the need is projected to grow. There are 4,172 such available positions in Allegheny County alone, and that number is expected to reach 9,654 openings by 2026 (Morrow, 2019).

In 2018, Research for Action published, Patching the Leaky Pipeline: Recruiting and Retaining Teachers of Color in Pennsylvania. Their work highlighted what is also a national concern; "research shows that exposure to teachers of color has a positive impact on students of all races, and particularly on students of color." Yet, "only 4% of Pennsylvania’s teachers are people of color. This percentage is not only one of the lowest in the nation, but it is also starkly disparate from Pennsylvania’s own student population, where 29% of students are people of color."

For adult men and women who work in early childcare as teacher assistants or in school settings as paraprofessionals, taking time off from work to complete a bachelor's degree is not a viable option. In addition to the time and format of most traditional undergraduate courses, there are other barriers: navigating financial aid, securing scholarships, purchasing textbooks, arranging for transportation, accessing needed technology, taking and passing a myriad of certification tests, and completing extensive practicum placements across different grade levels.

Carlow's Apprenticeship Program addresses all of these barriers and provides a supportive non-traditional community of scholars and support to ensure successful degree attainment. Courses are offered one night a week or online. Twenty-four credits can be completed on-the-job with the alignment to course competencies and the support of coaches and mentors. Thanks to a large grant establishing Carlow as the Western PA Hub for Apprenticeship, students will receive financial support for certification tests and test preparation, bus passes for transportation, and textbooks via a loan program. Students will also receive a special scholarship for one-month to complete an extensive practicum in grades 2-4, and students will have access to technology throughout the program.

The Carlow apprenticeship program is designed to:

· reduce workforce barriers to credential and degree attainment;

· diversify the early childcare workforce pipeline;

· elevate the quality of childcare as evidenced through higher STARS ratings;

· increase higher quality caregiver interactions; and

· elevate scores on environmental rating scales through coordinating the efforts of key stakeholders and providing targeted apprenticeship supports.

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Pictured are some of the new apprenticeship students in Early Childhood with Sister Shelia Carney, Mrs. Pam Zimmerman, and Dr. Rae Ann Hirsh at an orientation meeting. Sister Shelia shared the history of the Sisters of Mercy and the infusion of Mercy Values at Carlow.

Want to Learn More? Check Out Our Video!

Carlow University's ECE Apprenticeship Program
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Apprenticeship students studying computational thinking in early childhood STEM education work on a hands-on robotics project. Classes are offered in an accelerated and evening format.

One Million Dollar Grant: Western PA Apprenticeship Hub!

Carlow University is creating the Western Pennsylvania Early Childhood Apprenticeship Hub, which will improve the quality of childcare of throughout the state of Pennsylvania by making higher education more accessible to childcare workers.

“The focus of the Apprenticeship Hub is on opening access and reducing barriers to school enrollment and degree attainment for working adults,” said Keely Baronak, EdD, executive director of The Campus Laboratory School at Carlow and chair of the Department of Education. “This is especially critical for diversification of the teacher pipelines.”

The $1 Million grant from an anonymous donor will support Carlow’s efforts to reduce those barriers and encourage more childcare workers to complete their degrees or pursue advanced degrees.

"We are thrilled to receive this funding which has the potential to improve early childhood education throughout western Pa.,” said Baronak. “This work dovetails with our $1.2 million grant award this past spring awarded by NSF in support of STEM scholarships for those pursing teaching certification in Biology, Chemistry, General Science, and Math."

Carlow’s Apprenticeship Hub is the first four-year apprenticeship model in early childhood education approved by Department of Labor.

The Hub will provide supports necessary to elevate the current childcare workforce, support degree completion, and increase the quality of childcare through the state. This will be accomplished by addressing any barriers that may prevent childcare workers from attaining their bachelor’s degree or any additional credentials.

Students in Carlow’s apprenticeship program will complete 24 credits of their degree on-the-job with the support of mentors and coaches. Additional education courses will be completed in the evening and online to accommodate working adults. In addition, a one-month paid practicum in an elementary setting will provide invaluable field experiences needed in pursuit of Pre K-4 teacher certification.

In 2018, Carlow University’s Early Childhood Education Program was awarded an Innovative Programs for Pennsylvania’s Early Childhood Education Workforce grant from the state’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning. The grant was awarded to ensure that early childhood education professionals have the required knowledge and skills to help all young children learn and develop. Through this grant, Carlow developed the first four-year Early Childhood Education Apprenticeship Program in the state of Pennsylvania. Rae Ann Hirsh, D.Ed., program director for Early Childhood Education led this project and will directly oversee the new work of the Apprenticeship Hub. She is also an invited member of the Higher Education Consortium, a group working to bring apprenticeship programs to institutions of higher education across Pennsylvania.

“Our new apprenticeship program not only provides a pathway to credential and degree attainment for child care professionals, but also a supportive pathway for high quality care for Pennsylvania’s children,” said Hirsh.

Carlow’s Education Department – via the Apprenticeship Hub – will be coordinating the efforts of several community partners. Carlow’s Apprenticeship Program will also align with pre-apprenticeship high school partnerships that the university has already established. The Teacher Education Program recently finalized a formal articulation agreement with Nazareth Prep and Pittsburgh Public Schools through their Career and Technical Education.

For more information about how to qualify for the Western Pennsylvania Apprenticeship Hub, please contact Rae Ann Hirsh, D.Ed. at or Pam Zimmerman at or call (412) 578-6014.

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Meet Dr. Rae Ann Hirsh

Students at Carlow find personal and professional champions in our faculty and staff. One of those champions, Dr. Rae Ann Hirsh, was once a student at Carlow herself. Her love for teaching started in high school. “I went through a CTE (Career and Technical Education) program in high school for those interested in Education; I was working at age sixteen in a child care center.” She attended and completed a two-year associate degree program at CCAC and then finished her undergraduate degree in Elementary and Special Education. After teaching at-risk kindergarten and learning support students in elementary grades for several years in Penn Hills, she worked as a curriculum development specialist and middle grades teacher at a private school.

It was then that Rae Ann was encouraged to pursue her graduate degree at Carlow. “Several colleagues and former professors of mine said I needed to attend Carlow University for my graduate degree in Early Childhood.” And so, she did. “I loved Carlow as a student. I was mentored by Dr. Roberta Schomburg, and she truly had the greatest impact on my life. She is so knowledgeable, so kind, and so supportive of me as a person and as a professional. It was Dr. Schomburg who supported my thesis and encouraged me to publish my thesis as a textbook.”

Years later, Dr. Rae Ann Hirsh returned to Carlow University as a faculty member in Early Childhood. “It was incredible to return to the school I love and teach with my mentor and inspiration. As a faculty member, Dr. Roberta Schomburg connected me with the whole early childhood community, specifically Trying Together (then PAECY); I traveled with her to Harrisburg and engaged in early childhood leadership at the state level.” Dr. Rae Ann Hirsh now leads the undergraduate and graduate early childhood program at Carlow University. She is the chief architect of the State’s first-ever four-year apprenticeship program in early childhood, and she is connecting with high schools in the region for a pre-apprenticeship pipeline. “We have incredible momentum right now as a department. It feels great to lead efforts to create pathways and eliminate barriers to degree completion in higher education.” In addition, Rae Ann leads our technology and STEM initiatives, and she helps coordinate our relationship with Carnegie Mellon University as a campus satellite of the CREATE Lab.

Students love her hands-on classes, infusion of robotic technology, project-based classroom learning and real-life engagement in community service and social justice advocacy. Allison Hyradil, a Carlow alumna and current Carlow University graduate student in our MEd program, credits Rae Ann for her success as a student. “Dr. Hirsh loves her students and believes in them. She is passionate about Education, and her classes are exciting, relevant, and provide great opportunities to build community with other educators.”

Rae Ann and her family live in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. She and her husband Gary have two adult children, Tori, a recent graduate of Carlow in Art, and Gabi, a current student at Carlow majoring in neuroscience. Rae Ann raises butterflies and is a master cookie baker! She can be found most days teaching classes, building robots, and advising students in AJP.

Picture Highlights of Carlow's Pre-Apprenticeship Program with Nazareth Prep HS

What is Pre-Apprenticeship?

For students in high school, a pre-apprecenticeship track provides a pathway to college credit and on-the-job experience. For students at Nazareth Prep High School in Pittsburgh, this experience is integral to their curriculum.

"Nazareth Prep is committed to partnering with local companies to help close the employment to education gap, and develop career pathways though its signature Corporate Internship Program. The program pairs students with Pittsburgh employers to work on-site one day each week for the entire school year. This work experience reinforces the future-ready skills introduced in the classroom, including communication, complex thinking, and decision making. Sponsoring companies, in turn, are developing Pittsburgh’s skilled workforce, while creating a diverse pool of future applicants for themselves" (https//

Two days a week, students in 9th-12th grade spend the day at Carlow University. Half of the day, students intern at the Campus Lab School and in the Early Learning Center working directly with children and young students. The other half of the day, Nazareth Prep students attend their own college class on campus and earn college credit. In between, students eat in the University cafeteria and usually make a stop at the Starbucks Coffee Shop before heading home for the day. Nazareth Prep coordinates and provides transportation to and from Carlow University. Crystal Rose, Instructor in Education at Carlow, serves as the Pre-Apprenticeship Director. At the end of each year of the apprenticeship, students can earn 3 college credits in Early Childhood.

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Meet Ms. Crystal Rose

Crytal Rose was born and raised in Pittsburgh and attended Pittsburgh Public Schools. After earning her undergraduate degree at the University of Pittsburgh in Social Sciences and Child Development, she graduated from Carlow University with an MEd in Early Childhood Education and a special focus in Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and, later, Autism Spectrum Disorders. She is currently completing her EdD in leadership and administration at Point Park University.

Crystal has held various positions in the field of Early Childhood Education: infant/toddler family service specialist, classroom lead teacher, and PQAS certified childcare director. For several years, she has also served as a supervisor of student teachers for Carlow’s Early Childhood Education Program, and she now takes the reins as the director of the Pre-Apprenticeship Program.

“I am very proud to have the opportunity to prepare pre-service teachers, student teachers and apprenticeship students for their classroom experiences here at Carlow, where I was once a student. In preparing pre-service teachers, I am most excited about connecting with high school students who have expressed the desire to work as educators in Early Childhood (Birth to grade 4). The students from Nazareth Prep have shown up each week determined to learn early childhood pedagogy, eager to assist teachers, and committed to positively engage in all activities. As high school students express an interest in pursuing a future in Education, I am happy to be a part of the pre-apprenticeship program giving them the opportunity to begin such a journey!” shared Crystal.

Crystal resides in Pittsburgh with her three children, daughters Cailah and Kennedy, and son Christopher.

Early childhood education program offered at Pittsburgh's Milliones!

Dr. Rae Ann Hirsh was a featured speaker at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at UPrep/Milliones HIgh School in the Hill District to launch a new CTE Program in Early Childhood. High school students can earn their Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential while in the program and nine college credits at Carlow.

"The district’s new Early Childhood Education program is designed to not only teach students the aspects of teaching and working with young children, from birth through elementary age, but also to give them real-life apprenticeship experience working in childcare and educational settings. And through an articulation agreement with Carlow University, students completing the program earn nine credits towards a degree"

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Literacy Spotlight Series!

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Carlow's Education Department is proud to present a series of workshops advancing Literacy Instruction and the Science of Teaching Reading and Writing!

First Workshop: Saturday, December 7th from 10:00am to 1:00pm in AJ Palumbo

Teaching Text Structures through Nursery Rhymes

Nursery Rhymes are the forgotten and most underutilized gem in language and literacy development and learning. In this knowledge session, participants will practice ways to mine these familiar treasures for elements of phonemic awareness, author’s craft, text- structures, meaning, and oral and written emulation. Nursery Rhymes are not just for early language and literacy development, but also for high level use with students in elementary and intermediate grades and beyond. All participants will receive a children’s book!

ACT 48 Hours Available

Lunch Provided!

For a full listing of workshop titles and dates, please see attachment below.

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New Club! Carlow Future Educators

An exciting kick-off meeting of our new Education Club (pictured above) was held in October.
The club's first service project is two-fold:

a Book and School Supply Drive to support Sunday School programs in area churches served by Blessed Be Educators and a Toy Drive to support families at a Homeless Shelter in Pittsburgh.

For more information, or to donate, contact club President Elaina Tkaczenko:

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Graduate Programs in Education!

MEd Program Options

Art Education
Curriculum and Instruction
tracks: Dyslexia, Online Teaching, Autism, ESL, STEM, EC Leadership

Early Childhood Education
Educational Leadership with Principal Certification option
Early Childhood Supervision

Secondary Education

Special Education

For more information about our programs, contact:
Mrs. Ann Bisignani, Education Graduate Coordinator:
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Welcome to Carlow Education!

New freshmen students enjoy orientation with Dr. Marilyn Llewellyn and our College Dean, Dr. Matthew Gordley! We welcomed 38 new undergraduate freshmen and transfer students this fall and 40 new graduate students!
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New Faculty Member Val Piccini!

This August, our Education Department welcomed a new faculty member in Reading.

Val Piccini is a graduate of Duquesne University where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, and Wilmington University, where she obtained her Master’s Degree in Reading with Disabilities. Val currently now serves as a Reading Specialist and Instructor in the Education Department within the College of Learning and Innovation. She is also the Coordinator of Professional Development at Carlow’s Campus Laboratory School.

Throughout her literacy career, Val has served as a classroom teacher, reading specialist, intervention coordinator, and literacy coach and staff developer. Most recently, Val served as a Reading Specialist in the Franklin Regional School District where she established and designed a third space learning environment; instructing both colleagues and students side-by side in a unique literacy lab setting. She is a Lead Teacher Consultant for the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project and the Founding Director of Writers of Westmoreland, a hub of the Project where she designs and facilitates literacy professional development in schools and school districts. Through Writers of Westmoreland, Val also coordinates and directs Young Writer’s Institutes for students rising in grades 4th-12th.

Val is on fire for reading and writing and initiatives involving the advancement of evidenced based literacy instruction that affords all students the opportunity to learn to read.

She is coordinating our Dyslexia track, teaching courses, leading a series of community-based literacy workshops, and building a proposal for a Reading Specialist program.

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Val Piccini is pictured (right) with undergraduate students Elaina Tkaczenko (middle) and Kasey Wolford (left).

Out and About...

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Conferences at Carlow!

Saturday, February 29th

"Trauma Informed Practices in PreK-12th grade:
Mindfulness and Meditation in Action."


Saturday, April 25th

Dyslexia Conference: Literacy and Learning
Keynote Speaker, Dr. Anita Archer!

Pittsburgh Branch of the International Dyslexia Association

See you next month!