One of our Junior Student Teaching sites is The Board of Cooperative Educational Services-Tompkins-Seneca-Toga. BOCES, Smith School is a special education school serving students in kindergarten through twelfth grade, up to age 21. Located in NE Ithaca, the majority of the students who attend BOCES have an identified special need and an Individualized Education Plan and receive specialized educational services. Class sizes at BOCES are smaller and at least one classroom aide is present. 

Ithaca College's Music Education Department began this teaching site in 2016. At BOCES, our Junior Student Teachers have the opportunity for early field experience where they get to teach twice per week. The music education faculty mentor the student teachers and supervise the teaching.  


The Montessori School collaboration is an outgrowth of a very successful multi-year and multi-faceted projected founded by assistant professor Beth Peterson. A mutually beneficial program, this undertaking began with an effort to both offer a wind and percussion music program to the local Elizabeth Ann Clune Montessori School of Ithaca and to provide important teaching experiences for Ithaca College pre-service teachers. Originally housed completely at Ithaca College, it has resulted in the creation of a complete wind and percussion music offering, including lessons and a band, housed within the Montessori School. Students receive music instruction from an individual hired in a position created as a result of this initiative.  Currently, this individual is Michael Treat, an Ithaca College alumnus. In addition, the Ithaca College Music Education Department and the Montessori School have maintained their close working relationship providing beneficial resources for both programs.

Numerous students have undertaken individual projects that have involved work and research with the Montessori philosophy and the Montessori School and Program. Montessori students travel to Ithaca College once a week to participate in wind and percussion lessons and instruction; these lessons provide valuable educational experiences for the involved children and a terrific teaching opportunity for our junior student teachers. During these junior student teaching experiences, the involved student teachers are advised and supervised by college professors, and they are given the opportunity to implement ideas, concepts, knowledge, and pedagogy learned during their undergraduate coursework.


Project Headstart is a collaborative venture between the Ithaca College Music Education Department and the Tompkins Community Action Headstart Program. The project is designed to provide music experiences both for children with special needs, such as students with disabilities and those who are English language learners, and for children from low income and high needs backgrounds. During weekly visits to Ithaca College's campus, students from area Headstart programs participate in lessons designed to provide valuable musical opportunities. Music lessons are also structured to enhance and expand skills that are taught in their Headstart classroom. These include gross and fine motor, language, cognitive, and social skills. In addition to the enhancement of developmental skills, children in this program experience the joy of making music from the time they enter the class until they leave.

Project Headstart also provides a unique opportunity for Ithaca College music education majors. Under the advisement and supervision of music education professors, music education majors, enrolled in Music Education for Children, and junior and senior vocal music education majors, participate and assist a lead teacher during the classroom experiences. In addition, the project provides opportunities for students in the Freshman- and Sophomore-level Music Field Experience to observe.

This unique and valued undertaking is coordinated by Dr. Emily Mason (Assistant Professor of Music Education) of the Ithaca College Music Education Department, and Lee Dillon (Executive Director), Jeanette McCord (Program Director) and Michelle Blodgett (Liaison) of the Tompkins Community Action Organization.


Learn More About IC's String Project!

Strings Off And Running is Ithaca College's String Project, a program in string instrument instruction being offered to St. Mary's Elementary School students in nearby Cortland, NY, who would not otherwise have access to string music programming. SOAR is directed by IC music education faculty member Julie Along Carr. With assistance from an IC senior music education major, Julie has taught the SOAR program since 2008. Junior music education majors from Ithaca College are also involved in the instruction process as part of their field experience and string pedagogy classes.

Enrolled students receive a 30-minute small group lesson, with the option for private instruction. Each student is also involved in a small, ability-grouped ensemble focusing on working together as a group and providing additional performance opportunities.

Approximately 70 students in grades pre-K through 6 are enrolled in the string program, comprising orchestras at four different ability levels.  Students made their debut performance at a holiday concert in December, 2008, and also perform in April and May. SOAR Students can participate in the New York State School Music Association’s Solo Festival.

In January 2017, the program was awarded the String Project of the Year Award by the National String Project Consortium.  This honor was received by Julie Carr and IC string students in March at the American String Teachers Association National Conference in Pittsburgh, PA.

SOAR is supported by The National String Project Consortium (NSPC), a coalition of String Project sites based at colleges and universities across the United States. The NSPC is dedicated to increasing the number of children playing stringed instruments, and addressing the critical shortage of string teachers in the US. The NSPC supports the creation and growth of String Projects at universities across the country, as they provide practical hands-on training for undergraduate string education majors during their college years, and give children the opportunity to study a stringed instrument.