Former resident to advise Ed. Dept.

By Joan Lawrence-Bauer
Longtime area resident Annmarie Urso has been appointed by New York State Education Commissioner, Dr. John B. King, Jr. to the Commissioner’s Advisory Panel on Special Education representing institutions of higher education.

Dr. Urso, formerly Annmarie Rosa, was a 17-year special education teacher at Margaretville Central School prior to receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in Special Education. Now an Assistant Professor at the Ella Cline Shear School of Education at the State University of New York at Geneseo, Urso teaches a variety of methods courses designed to prepare new teachers.

Urso credits her years in Margaretville with her passion for new methods and solutions in special education. “Rural schools don’t get the funding they need to get the academic achievement they deserve,” said Urso by phone last week. Noting that funding in education has only gotten tighter, Urso added that “laws are not fully funded, teachers are under great pressure and rural schools especially, have been tremendously hit by state cuts in school aid.”

Though education for students with special needs remains one of the greatest challenges for educators, Urso said that there is a bright spot on the horizon because of new technologies.
“When I started in the early ’80s if a student couldn’t read a text book, there were few alternatives for reaching them. Now you can get text books in MP3 formats, technologies for writing, and support for math in multiple different media.” Urso noted that the cost of technology “is coming way down,” but teachers need to know what to teach and how to deploy it. Students have changed, said Urso.

“Kids today come to school with a different set of skills and experiences than we did. They already understand technology and they use multiple literacies in a school day. We need to keep up with our teaching skills.”

Urso, who is the mother of Christopher Rosa of Margaretville and Rachel Rosa of Tucson, AZ, hopes to be able to help present views to the Advisory Panel that reflect what’s going on in terms of teacher training. Demands of common core standards, demands on teachers with new mandated performance reviews are among the many topics she’s sure to address. “I hope to present an informed and experienced viewpoint that can really make a difference,” said Urso.