Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Griffiths combines passions at PSUC

Plattsburgh State junior Maggie Griffiths has a passion for working with children and uses her unique talents to incorporate music and learning into classrooms.

Griffiths is in the five-year elementary and special education programs with a concentration in music. For a long time, she didn’t want to be a teacher because both her parents have careers in the field. However, during junior year of high school, she was able to teach dance lessons to special educations students at her school. That’s when she decided teaching was the right path for her.

Integrating music into the classroom is something Griffiths is enthusiastic about because she has been deeply involved with music since she was a child. She has been a saxophonist since she was eight years old, has sang in the PSUC choir and performed in campus production of “Oklahoma” last year.

Griffiths appreciates that she can combine her love for music with her desire to teach. When she graduates from the five-year program, she hopes to return to a rural, small town to teach general or special education.

She has incorporated music in the classroom by doing research on previous childhood development techniques that include music. She learned that music can enhance developing and learning processes in young children. For example, listening to songs help children pick up on patterns and rhythms Griffiths said.

From going to Project CONNECT to voice lessons to making lesson plans, Griffiths has a lot on her plate. Choosing a concentration in music can be quite rigorous and demanding, but Griffiths doesn’t mind because she truly cares about creating positive learning environments for children.

“I think seeing growth in kids is cool,” Griffiths said. “In Project CONNECT, over the semester or year, seeing how students grow and develop and how they come into who they are going to be as a person is great. If you can have a hand in helping them get there, however you can, whether it be emotionally or educationally and helping them learn, I think that’s super cool.”

PSUC associate professor of music Jo Miano conducts the choir at PSUC and met Griffiths when she joined. Miano noticed the many positive qualities of Griffiths immediately. She said Griffiths is open, honest, a great listener, genuine and has “eyes full of expression” and a broad smile.

“She is a great peer to others in the class,” she said. “She listens to what they are saying deeply.”

This is Griffiths’ first year as head resident assistant at Banks Hall, and Miano said she has shown qualities that would make her an excellent RA such as leadership skills, setting examples for younger people and creating guidelines for others to follow.

PSUC graduate student Brian Gaida is the resident director at Banks Hall and met Griffiths last year. He said she puts all she has into projects or assignments whether it’s in the residence hall or in the classroom.

“When I used to be in education and Project CONNECT, I wish I had somebody like Maggie that was paired with me because not only is she generally invested in the program, but she puts in the necessary work other people sometimes go by the minimum,” Gaida said. “She will exceed that by far and push herself because she wants to be the best teacher she can be, and she also wants the best for the students she’s working with.”

Griffiths said next semester, her classes will focus more on her education major, which she is excited about. She hopes that getting hands-on experience in classrooms next semester will help her get more comfortable teaching and implementing lesson plans in the future.

“If I ever have kids, I would want Maggie to be the teacher my kids go to,” Gaida said.

Email Laura Schmidt at

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