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SUNY Geneseo was established by New York State Legislature in 1867, and opened its doors in 1871 as the Geneseo Normal and Training School. The original name of the School reflected its focus on training teachers. In the early 1900s, the curriculum required two years of professional study for aspiring teachers. By 1942, basic teacher training programs included preparation of teacher-librarians, teachers of children with special needs, and speech pathologists.
In 1948, the Geneseo Normal and Training School became a part of the State University of New York. The teachers colleges of SUNY became Colleges of Arts and Sciences in 1962, and two years later, Geneseo's four-year degree programs in arts and sciences were implemented. SUNY Geneseo's Department of Education was reorganized as a School of Education in 1992 with about 30 teaching faculty.
SUNY Geneseo's School of Education was formally renamed the Ella Cline Shear School of Education in 1998, in recognition of a generous endowment made by Ella Cline Shear. Mrs. Shear graduated from Geneseo in 1935 and spent the next 41 years as a dedicated elementary school teacher. Mrs. Shear said, "Geneseo played a significant role in my preparation as a teacher. I felt the school offered what I needed in building a foundation to fulfill a dream of becoming a teacher - a dream I had since childhood." Her regard for the School of Education inspired Mrs. Shear to give back to the college so that further generations could realize their dreams of becoming educators. Throughout her career, Ella Cline Shear was a role model for teachers and we continue to remember her life and generosity.
In 2006, the position of Dean of the School of Education was established in response to changes in State regulations and accreditation processes. Currently, The School of Education has undergraduate certification programs in Early Childhood and Childhood Education, Childhood with Special Education, and Adolescence Education. Our graduate programs include Early Childhood (B-2), Multicultural Childhood Education (1-6), Reading and Literacy (B-12), and Adolescence Education (7-12). Teacher education remains one of our largest majors in the College.
SUNY Geneseo began as a teacher training institute, and 137 years later, Teacher education remains our College's largest major.