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Westminster partners with ASSET Inc. to enhance teacher preparation

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Posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Westminster College education students will get an opportunity to further develop their teaching skills through a new partnership with ASSET Inc. and their PALS (Partnership to Advance Learning in STEM) program.

On Friday, Oct. 28, the Westminster College School of Education faculty members Jane Dean and Dr. Jenna Copper, ASSET Inc. representatives including Deborah Matthews-Spencer Luckett ’81, and state Reps. Christopher Sainato (Lawrence County) and Mark Longietti ’85 (Mercer County) met with current Westminster students Tyler Dickson, a senior from Greenville, Pa.; sophomore Janeira James of Campbell, Ohio; senior Abbegail Froehlich of Pittsburgh; and senior Stephen Adametz of Glenshaw, Pa. Students demonstrated how PALS—a crisis response to the COVID-19 pandemic—will enhance their teaching preparation and field experiences and equip them with the skills they will need for the 21st century classroom. Also in attendance were Westminster President Dr. Kathy Brittain Richardson and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Dr. Jamie McMinn.

The Pittsburgh-based nonprofit organization ASSET Inc. was recently awarded $275,000 in new state funding for PALS, which works with Western Pennsylvania colleges to train education students to deliver high-impact tutoring virtually to K-12 students who could not otherwise access one-on-one instructional support.

Championed by State Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (Allegheny) and state Reps. Sainto, Longietti and Jessica Benham, the new funding will allow ASSET to more than double the reach of PALS in 2023.

“Thanks to Representatives Sainato and Longietti for their hard work to obtain this funding.  It means that Westminster College students in the School of Education will have access to expanded learning opportunities that further develop their teaching abilities and set them up for success,” said Sarah Toulouse, executive director of ASSET Inc.

“As the modern workplace becomes more tech-oriented, the STEM subjects–science, technology, engineering and math–are more important than ever in preparing students to step into high-paying jobs,” Sainato said. “The new funding for the PALS initiative will help equip our teachers-in-training so they can provide virtual tutoring in these subjects to students who might not otherwise have access to one-on-one instruction.”

The PALS program will be incorporated into Westminster College’s teacher preparation coursework, and virtual tutoring will be integrated into their field experiences. Preservice teachers also will receive real-time coaching from experienced educators during their tutoring sessions.

“Having top-quality education starts with our teachers having the best possible resources,” Longietti said. “With this funding, the PALS program will partner with Westminster College to help education majors develop virtual tutoring skills and other tools for the modern classroom that enhance STEM teaching.”

“The PALS program is a transformational change in the education of students who need one-on-one tutoring to catch up academically after the events of the past years,” said Dr. René Picó, associate professor and chair of Westminster’s School of Education. “We need to maintain a sense of determination and urgency to change how we assist our children and young adults. Westminster College faculty and students are ready to do something innovative to advance the lives of school children and their families.”

For more information about the PALS program at Westminster College, please contact Dr. Pico at or 724-946-7283.

Top photo: Pictured in front from left, Stephen Adametz ’23, Tyler Dickson ’23, Abbegail Froelich ’23 and Janeira James ’25. In back from left, Dr. Jamie McMinn, Deborah Luckett ’81, state Rep. Mark Longietti ’85, Westminster President Dr. Kathy Brittain Richardson, state Rep. Christopher Sainato, Jane Dean, Dr. Jenna Copper and Sarah Toulouse.

Middle photo: Deborah Matthews-Spencer Luckett '81

Bottom photo: Senior Tyler Dickson