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Mercy College School of Education Faculty News

Dr. Ilene Rothschild Named Outstanding Educator of the Year by Education Update

June 2019

Ilene Rothschild, an Associate Professor in Mercy College’s School of Education, received Education Update’s Outstanding Educator of the Year 2019 Award. Rothschild has been a faculty member at Mercy College since 1998 and teaches courses in the Special Education department. She was appointed as Faculty-in-Residence for the School of Education for the 2014 – 2015 academic year. Previously she served in various roles in public and private schools and taught a variety of courses at numerous colleges and universities.


Dr. Wendy Mages Discusses Using Educational Drama and Theater Pedagogy in Training EFL Teachers

April 26, 2019

Her Fulbright Fellowship took her all the way to Austria, but Dr. Wendy Mages, Associate Professor of Childhood Education at Mercy College, is taking the lessons she learned there and applying them to her work in New York.

She’s also sharing those lessons with colleagues. On April 7, 2019, Mages presented at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference, held in Toronto, Canada. Her presentation, “Educational Drama and Theater Pedagogy as an Integral Part of Training EFL Teachers,” focused on the integration of education drama and theater into a teacher preparation program for those who plan to teach English-as-a-foreign-language.

The presentation was an extension of Mages’ own background and interests. She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in theater; she worked in museum education and children’s television, often drawing upon drama and theater to educate; and her master’s thesis and dissertation each focused on how drama and theater techniques could promote learning and development.

During her Fulbright Fellowship in Austria, Mages examined cohorts of Austrian teachers-in-training and studied their responses to creating and performing a play.

“I really appreciated how much time and effort the Austrian teacher educators and their teacher candidates put into their work on this project, as developing a script and producing a play is a time-intensive endeavor,” Mages noted. “Their collaborative spirit was wonderful to witness.”

She continued: “I also appreciated the high quality of the performances and how well the teacher candidates were able to engage their audiences. This was quite impressive, as many of the teacher candidates had little prior experience with drama or theatre. Importantly, most of the teacher candidates reported that engaging in this program helped them hone their English-language skills.”

Mages said that the program led her to pursue new methods of integrating drama and theatre into coursework at Mercy College, as well as into extracurricular programming.

While at AERA, Mages attended a variety of research sessions and was particularly impressed by research presentations on early childhood education, early childhood language development, arts-based educational research and interdisciplinary approaches to STEM education and the arts.

She was further inspired by fellow AERA attendees, who “shared interesting insights and encouraged [her] to publish this research, as they felt it would make a valuable contribution to the field.”

The knowledge gained by Mages won’t be confined to a Toronto hotel ballroom, however. She intends to continue folding this information into her research and into presentations she will be making this summer, including one in Zug, Switzerland, which focuses on educational drama and theatre in second- and foreign-language teaching.


Hope Cannady, a distinguished Mercy College School of Education alumnus, is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Childhood Education. . . . Read more

Dr. Meghan Marrero Named a 2018 Fulbright Scholar

Meghan Marrero, Ed.D., professor of secondary science education and co-director of Mercy’s Center for STEM Education, was named a 2018 Fulbright Scholar. Marrero was one of more than 800 U.S. citizens who taught, conducted research and/or provided expertise abroad for the 2018-2019 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. Recipients of Fulbright scholarships are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement as well as record of service and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields.

Marrero’s award-winning proposal was inspired by her work with FLORES, an innovative program in Mercy’s Center for STEM Education that provides opportunities for science discovery to K-2 students and their families. “We show parents and children how to do science investigations together, and we encourage them to try it at home, using simple materials and observation,” Marrero said. “The program has been very successful with area schools, and it’s especially valuable for families who face language and socio-economic barriers. I theorized that this type of program would work just as well for families in other countries.”

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and of other countries. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the Program, which operates in more than 160 countries worldwide.

Marrero traveled to Dublin, where she spent the Fall 2018 semester at the National College of Ireland (NCI), working with the faculty as they introduced more science and engineering subjects into the early childhood education curriculum for 4-, 5- and 6-year-olds.

Carlos Hernandez
Carlos Hernandez visits the Mercy College Short Story Club

The Mercy College Inquiring Minds Club, organized by School of Education faculty, continues to thrive and hold lively discussions on literary topics. Members of our local communities have also made significant contributions to the club. In 2016, for example, the author of one of the short stories the group was reading and discussing ("The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria") made an appearance as a special guest. This vibrantly portrayed short story is a “strong Latin tradition of magical realism with a dose of science fiction.”

Author Carlos Hernandez, who has written over 30 works of fiction, poetry, prose and drama, spoke about his works and the writing process. Dr. Hernandez currently serves as an Associate Professor at CUNY, where he teaches English courses and advises and teaches doctoral students.

Ilene Rothschild
Nancy Heilbronner
Inquiring Minds Club Organizers

School of Education Professor’s New Book Acquaints American Audiences with the Work of a Pioneering Early Childhood Educator

March 2020

A new book by Helge Wasmuth, Ph.D., associate professor of childhood education, explores the work of Friedrich Fröbel, a nineteenth century pioneer of early childhood education whose pedagogy is still studied and practiced today all over the world.

Fröbel’s Pedagogy of Kindergarten and Play: Modifications in Germany and the United States, published in February by Routledge, has already generated excitement among Fröbel scholars around the world. In coming months, Wasmuth will present a series of talks, including the keynote address at a conference to mark the 180th anniversary of kindergarten. This prestigious gathering will be held at the Friedrich-Fröbel-Museum in Bad Blankenburg, Germany, the birthplace of kindergarten and site of numerous societies and organizations dedicated to the study and analysis of Fröbel’s work.

Wasmuth, a renowned expert on Fröbel, who coined the term “kindergarten” and is considered its founding father, was interviewed on camera for a documentary, The History of Kindergarten. The producer of the film, impressed by Wasmuth’s deep and broad knowledge, urged the Mercy professor to write a book.

“Many of Fröbel’s writings, especially his letters and certain papers, have never been translated from German into English,” Wasmuth explained. “My fluency in both languages, as well as my deep interest in the man and his philosophy and pedagogy, offered me a rare opportunity to fill in some of the gaps that exist in the worldwide understanding of Frobel’s pedagogy.”

Fröbel scholars and childhood educators from all over the world are praising the work, calling it “long overdue,” “a must-read for understanding how ideas about play developed and evolved,” and “revealing new insights into the way Fröbel’s original kindergarten pedagogy was modified and indeed forgotten or lost.”

While extraordinarily popular in the U.K., Japan and New Zealand, Fröbel is not as well known in the U.S., largely due to the lack of adequate translations, and his ideas are not always fully understood. While many Fröbel scholars enjoy debating whether today’s kindergarten focuses too much on academics and not enough on play, Wasmuth points out that is not the focus of his book.

“My book takes an historical view of the invention of kindergarten, incorporating Fröbel’s worldview, the evolution of his pedagogy and how that changed over time,” he said. “It’s primarily for scholars, but it’s also fascinating to examine the work of pioneering theorists in light of today’s practices. If anything, I hope my book will serve as a reminder that we can always think differently about children, whether educating them, raising them, or simply living with them.”

Mercy Dean Wins Independent Publishers Book Award

May 2019 

If you are looking for a new book for your summer reading list, why not choose an award-winning work by a Mercy College professor?

Dr. Eric Martone, Interim Dean of the School of Education, recently won an Independent Publisher Book Award (also known as an “IPPY”) for his 2018 book “Finding Monte Cristo: Alexandre Dumas and the French Atlantic World,” which was published by McFarland & Company. The book won the Silver Medal in the Europe – Best Regional Non-Fiction category.

Martone explained his work is the culmination of 10 years of research and other publications on Dumas and incorporates unpublished primary sources from around the world.

According to a summary of the book, Martone explores how Dumas, grandson of a Caribbean slave and author of ‘The Three Musketeers’ and ‘The Count of Monte Cristo,’ faced racial prejudice in his homeland of France and constantly searched for a sense of belonging. For Dumas, ‘Monte Cristo’ symbolized this elusive quest. It was a similar quest for those living in France’s former colonies, as nineteenth and twentieth century black intellectuals from the Caribbean and Africa drew on Dumas’s work and celebrity to renegotiate their full acceptance as French citizens. Their efforts were influenced by earlier struggles of African Americans in the decades after the Civil War, who celebrated Dumas as a black American hero.

“National identities are elastic and change over time, establishing the boundaries for inclusion and exclusion of certain groups,” said Martone, whose research is influenced in part by Mercy’s commitment to diversity. “Understanding this process is crucial to developing means to promote greater equity and social inclusion in contemporary society.”

This is the 23rd annual Independent Publisher Book Awards contest, honoring the year’s best published titles in various fiction and non-fiction categories from academic and non-academic independent publishers, university presses, and self-published books. It is the largest and most competitive awards program for independently published books in the English-speaking world.

An awards reception was held on May 28, 2019, at the Copacabana in New York City.

For more information on the 2019 IPPY Awards, please visit here.

International Publication Features School of Education Professors’ Articles on Early Childhood Education and Care in a Cultural Context

October 9, 2019
Mercy College Associate Professors Elena Nitecki, Ph.D. and Helge Wasmuth, Ph.D. have both edited and authored articles in the internationally published book, “Globalization, Transformation, and Cultures in Early Childhood Education and Care: Reconceptualization and Comparison.”

The publication is a collection of articles authored by professors representing global universities and colleges who study how the discussions and terminology used in the field of early childhood education and care (ECEC) across cultures are vastly different, and how consideration of these differences in discourse and systems can better inform worldwide education practices.

The book features professors who are members of the Cultures of Early Childhood Education and Care (CECEC) International Research Network. They reside in Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Iran and the United States, and Mercy is the sole United States-based college represented in the group. Nitecki and Wasmuth are founding members of CECEC.

The goal of the CECEC is to foster international research collaboration and develop frameworks for comparing early childhood education and care methods across cultures. The network was founded at the University of Education Schwäbisch Gmünd in the summer of 2017 and since then, members have undertaken common research activities and learned from each other. The book publication demonstrates the great process that CECEC has made in the past two years and is the result of intensive work, discussion and scientific reflection.

The book is envisioned to assist international scholars, and ECEC associations and groups, steer conversations about how to raise and educate children in a cultural context. It demonstrates that there is opportunity for innovation, expanded thought and diversity in the ECEC field.

Praise for the book has been widespread, and accolades state the collection “… [is] a fascinating exchange of intercultural ideas, practices and strategies, “…allows for more inclusive and balanced perspectives on the lives of young children and “… [is] powerfully generative and opens readers to complexity and richness found globally in childhood.”

Mercy College’s online Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education Program has been ranked 15th by, a resource that provides unbiased research to help students make informed decisions about their higher education futures. The 2020 ranking also considers the College to have the best “birth to grade 2” focus out of the 50 schools evaluated. assessed 476 accredited college and universities in the nation to create the comprehensive ranking. They evaluated each childhood education program on a scale of 0 to 100 based on curriculum quality, graduation rate, reputation and post-graduate employment. Out of the 476 analyzed schools, only 50 made it to the final ranking list.

According to, “Students who pursue any one of these programs can expect to gain employment much quicker in comparison to candidates without a degree.”

Dr. Elena Nitecki, Chair of the Early Childhood and Childhood Education Program, responded, “Our department is happy to have received recognition on a national scale. We are always looking for ways to strengthen our program and support students in meeting their goals to become successful teachers of young children.”


Interview with Dr. William Farber, New York State Mathematics Educators Hall of Famer

Mercy College Associate Professor of Mathematics Education Dr. William Farber is an inductee of the New York State Mathematics Educators Hall of Fame, sponsored by the New York State Association of Mathematics Supervisors (NYSAMS). The School of Education is very proud to have such an outstanding mathematician and dedicated colleague as part of our community.

Thinking back to your own childhood, when did you realize that you had special interest in and talent for mathematics? How you come to enjoy mathematics?

I have always been fascinated with numbers and the magical way that they work. As a youngster I began working at my Dad’s produce stand in the Bronx, New York. At the age of five, I was selling shopping bags to customers for a nickel per bag. As I got older, I was allowed to pack, weigh, and sell all types of produce and make change for customers, without the use of a calculator. My dad was my first math teacher and, out of necessity, his approach was through real life applications. I applied all that I learned from my dad to the classroom, such as measurement skills, fraction manipulation, mental math, spatial relations, and number operations. My love for math has remained throughout my educational life and career. During middle school, I was fortunate to have a teacher who had a profound influence on my decision to ultimately pursue a career in mathematics. Lawrence Weinberg was a dedicated instructor who showed great interest in his students and made math fun. He was a significant role model.

When and why did you decide to become a teacher of mathematics? Was this always your goal?

After graduating from high school, I enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served four years during the war in Vietnam. While in the Navy, I took correspondence courses in mathematics. After being discharged, I initially studied at Bronx Community College and then transferred to Manhattan College majoring in mathematics with no specific career focus.  My wife, Deborah, encouraged me to consider teaching as a profession. She recognized my potential as a teacher and was well aware of my enthusiasm for mathematics. After graduating from college, I was hired by Dr. William Pratella (Superintendent of the Mount Vernon Schools) and filled a six-month temporary teaching position at the A.B. Davis Middle School in Mount Vernon, NY.  I taught 7th and 8th grade mathematics. I found my true calling and the students enjoyed my interactive teaching methods. Making math relevant for all students, including those who experienced math anxiety was imperative.

You worked for many years as a mathematics teacher at John Peter Tetard Junior High School. Which is the most cherished memory of your time as a mathematics teacher?

I was hired as a ninth grade teacher in the Bronx and was fortunate to be in an environment with a strong mathematics faculty. The chairperson of the department, Dr. Harold Bailey, was a fine mathematician and supervisor, and a great mentor. I developed methods of teaching that were innovative and helped to make math come alive for students. The use of hands-on materials, real-world models, technology, guest speakers, music and sports helped to significantly motivate students. 

In your opinion, what is the best way to help young children to enjoy mathematics and to become successful in learning mathematics? 

It is very important to create a supportive classroom environment, where students have the freedom and comfort to express themselves without reservation. Also, it is essential to make mathematics ‘come alive’ for young children. This can be accomplished using motivational techniques, such as the effective use of manipulative materials, incorporating learning centers, presenting relevant early childhood mathematics literature, using technology, and having children work together in cooperative group settings. Teachers should also incorporate mathematics that is functionally relevant and familiar to real life situations that children experience and can relate to. These are a few methods that will build a child’s ego strength and help desensitize math anxiety, which is so prevalent in our society.

Do you have a favorite mathematical activity or problem that you are partial to and enjoy sharing with your students and colleagues? 

There are so many mathematical activities that I enjoy sharing with students, teachers, and colleagues throughout the tears, but if I had to choose one, it would be the “Birthday Problem”. The Birthday Problem is a very famous problem in combinatorial probability. The classical statement of the problem is to find the probability that among n students in a classroom, at least two students will have the same birthday (both month and day). The problem is well known and the solution is a bit surprising, and gets students to think about probability theory in a hands-on, motivational, enjoyable way.

Dr. Wendy Mages Provides “Teachable Moments” Through the Craft of Storytelling

July 3, 2019
By day, Dr. Wendy Mages, an associate professor of childhood education, teaches on the faculty of the School of Education. She also researches the effect of the arts on learning and development, and serves as affiliated faculty for the Mercy College Center for STEM Education. But by night, Mages transforms into a storyteller, performing at The Moth and other storytelling events.
Wait, what? Dr. Mages does story slams?
Indeed, Wendy Mages has performed in several story slams—live performances of “true stories, told without notes”—hosted by The Moth, a New York City non-profit group dedicated to sharing common, diverse experience through the craft of storytelling.
Recently, Mages performed her piece called “Lima Beans: An Epiphany.” While conducting a class of Mercy College graduate students studying to become teachers, Mages searched for a way to engage her students more effectively. Recalling the wonder and delight of germinating lima beans into seedlings as a young child, Mages brought a few germinated lima beans to class to share with her students. The resulting teachable moment served as the basis of her story.
“Telling true science stories allows tellers to share personal experiences of science, as it invites audiences to experience the marvels of science in everyday lives,” said Mages. “This story was originally crafted to engage science teachers in a professional development workshop on telling true personal science stories.”
“Lima Beans: An Epiphany” was published in The Journal of Stories in Science, an academic journal that explores storytelling as a means to “teach, inspire, engage, connect and build new bridges of understanding about the diversity of paths in science.”
In June Mages presented “Lima Beans: An Epiphany” live at a sold-out conference in New York City called Cultivating Ensembles in STEM Education and Research. Attended by educators, researchers, performers, artists and entrepreneurs, the conference seeks to transform the human/cultural experience of professional and social identities in STEM.
To learn more about Dr. Mages’s storytelling endeavors, including videos of her performances at The Moth, please visit Wendy Mages: Storyteller.

Dr. Meghan Marrero Fosters International Cooperation Among Marine Educators at China Conference

October 3, 2019

Meghan Marrero, EdD, professor of secondary science education at Mercy College and co-director of the Mercy College Center for STEM Education, was an invited speaker at the biennial conference of the Asia Marine Educators Association (AMEA) Conference in Qingdao, China that took place from August 21 - 23.

Marrero, who is past president of the United States-based National Marine Educators Association (NMEA), presented a keynote entitled, “The Promotion of Marine Education in the United States by the National Marine Educators Association,” and moderated a session.

With approximately 100 attendees from nations throughout Asia, including the Philippines, Korea, Bangladesh, China, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan, the conference offered academic sessions on topics ranging from the use of live aquaria in schools, education aboard tall ships and ocean orientations of elementary students. Among the attendees and presenters were a group of teachers from both China and Taiwan who were participating in a “cross-strait” exchange program.

In her keynote, Marrero introduced the Asian group of marine educators to the work of their counterparts in the United States She also gave an overview of numerous opportunities and resources available for Asian educators, including webinars, ocean literacy resources and international scholarships.

On the final day of the conference, attendees traveled to three schools in different parts of Qingdao, witnessing some of the formal efforts for marine education taking place in the region. The group was treated to a sunset cruise aboard a vessel belonging to one of the schools, gaining a unique perspective of Qingdao and its sights.

“As is my experience with NMEA, the Asia conference was a wonderful networking opportunity for professionals in diverse marine education sectors to meet, share best practices and develop ideas,” said Marrero, who is serving a two-year term on the AMEA Advisory Board. “I look forward to supporting my Asian colleagues as they continue to do excellent work in marine education. I am truly grateful for an amazing experience in Qingdao, and I’m looking forward to strengthening our connections with our colleagues in Asia.”