Master of Arts in Teaching Student and Professor Team Up on Research Project

© Western New Mexico University

Western New Mexico University School of Education Associate Professor of Special Education Dr. Roberta Marquez and her Ukrainian student Tomas Gallegos presented a research paper at last month’s 14th Annual Mentoring Conference. “Using InTASC Standards, High-Leverage Coaching Practices, and Technology to Video-Coach a Teacher Candidate Volunteering in a Rural Ukrainian Elementary School” was published in the scholarly, peer reviewed journal known as The Chronicle of Mentoring and Coaching.

Gallegos enrolled in the WNMU Master of Arts in Teaching program while serving in a rural village in Eastern Ukraine as a Peace Corps Youth in Development Volunteer. “I began the program to be a more responsive and informed volunteer and to create opportunities to teach around the world after service,” he said.

Dr. Marquez said their project’s ties to educators, students, and families in a rural school in Ukraine gives it a “unique and compelling angle that underscores the United States’ efforts to create partnerships and become allies to the government and people of Ukraine.”

Gallegos was involved as a co-researcher, co-author, and co-investigator. “In most faculty/student research projects, students act as research assistants or experience peripheral involvement through a course or directed study,” Dr. Marquez said. “In this project, the student is equal with the faculty member.”

Gallegos confirmed that the practice augmented his skillset and added crucial experience that he believes will be vital in his career. “The skills that I have gained through Dr. Marquez’ coaching have allowed me to hone my teaching skills, conduct and publish academic research, and present important findings in an academic setting.”

The WNMU master’s program overall has helped him develop a strong theoretical foundation for engaging and successful teaching. “The focus on culturally cognizant teaching methods — grounded in evidence-based practices — ensures that our future teachers enter classrooms with a realistic and positive attitude toward the strengths of diversity and inclusion,” Gallegos said.

The graduate student received a 2021-2022 U.S. State Department Fulbright award to Belarus, but the program was canceled due to the uncertainty and volatility in Belarus causing expulsion of all foreign students from Belarusian universities by President Lukashenko.

So, Gallegos became Congressional Staff Assistant to Senator Martin Heinrich and moved to Washington D.C. in September. “I look forward to finishing my degree in the fall of 2022, after which I intend to use the skills and knowledge gained in the WNMU School of Education in future endeavors, regardless of position or discipline,” he said.

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