Shelly Klotzbach '06

December 8, 2013

Shelly Klotzbach '06Majors: Art Education (K-12) and Elementary Education (K-6)

Current Residence: Albany, NY

What are you doing now?

I’ve been teaching at the Free School, a small independent school in Albany, NY for about five years.  When I graduated from SJC, I was really excited to continue working with children, but uncertain of what it might look like for me.  I could see that education policies and a growing emphasis on standardized testing were drastically changing the way schools function.  The Free School is unique in that we allow children the Shelly's classfreedom to pursue learning in a personal way.  That may include traditional classes, independent or collaborative projects, free play, creative projects and games.  We do not follow a standardized curriculum or participate in standardized testing.  Instead, the curriculum we offer is driven by what children and their families are asking for.  Students choose how to spend their days at school based on what they find important and interesting.  We have a strong emphasis on social and emotional development and students actively participate in solving problems and making decisions together. 

My co-teachers and I all wear many hats, but I mainly teach art and keep track of the 5th and 6th grade group.  I love the unique flexibility of working in this environment, where I can work closely with each individual student with attention to their interests and goals.  The students never cease to amaze me with what they accomplish based on their own choosing.

Why did you choose SJC?

I chose SJC after visiting the campus and sitting in on classes for a day.  What stood out to me more than anything was the friendly atmosphere and the connections between students and professors.  I also loved that education majors have hands-on learning opportunities in local schools in their first semester. 

Trip to Ithaca, NYAs a student, what was your experience like at SJC?

I had a great experience at SJC.  I was able to design my own major.  I was able to observe and practice the theory I was learning through my field placements each semester.  Education professors worked closely with students and encouraged me to really think about the role of schools and education and who I wanted to be as a teacher.  Bonnie Zimmer especially was an amazing advisor and mentor to me.  We continue to stay in touch. 

How did the Core Program integrate with your major?

The Core program challenged me to examine the ways in which all factors of identity (culture, race, gender, class, abilities, etc.) play into everyone’s interactions.  Core helped me to better understand myself and broaden my understanding of other experiences.  Anyone involved in education has a crucial responsibility to consider those factors in how schools are structured and how we approach students and families.    

What advice would you give to a prospective student?

Little witch

I think the most important part of my education was being exposed to so many teaching styles and learning environments. There were some great examples and some not-so-great examples that help me to be more thoughtful and intentional in my teaching.  I would encourage anyone who is thinking about teaching to spend time observing and working in diverse settings with different teachers and students of all ages. 

If you are interested in learning more about alternatives to public education, check out the Free School website and the Alternative Education Resource Organization website  

Explore the Core
  • SJC Education Students in the field

    Start Your Major Freshman Year

    Like Elementary Education major Brittany Cooper ’12, you start your major as soon as you walk in the door, so you will have four years of knowledge and experience in your field.You can even change your mind about your major and still graduate on time with lots of experience.

    Core and the major work in harmony to develop the cognitive skills requisite for success in a competitive, global society. Students better understand the forces that shape the future by exploring the past. They discuss contemporary events; analyze the impact of science on our understanding of humanity and the universe; and investigate diverse cultures and world civilizations. 

  • Professor Fred and Sally Berger at Graduation


    Small colleges offer you personal attention; SJC professors, such as Communication Professors Fred and Sally Berger, do more for you—they serve as mentors. Studies show that having a mentor leads to success in your field. Alumni often tell us how their professors not only played a major role in their success, but also became lifelong friends.  If you are undecided about what to major in, we help you decide.

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    In the Core Program, you will be inspired to debate, analyze, and solve problems. Discussion of culture and society, the modern world, and Christian Humanism are just a few highlights of the Program. New perspectives will be gained, your worldview will expand, and you will graduate from SJC as a well rounded, highly marketable person.

  • Visiting Chinese Students


    You get more deeply involved at SJC, so you get more meaningful experiences that prepare you for career and life. LaMichelle Sanders ’14, for example, has spent two summers helping Chinese study abroad students adapt to life in the U.S. and at SJC. If you want to start a club or activity that doesn’t exist, we encourage you to start one. At SJC, prepare yourself for what you want to do in life.

  • Hoop House student workers

    Real-life Skills

    Because of the skills you develop by having the Core Program interact with your major for four years in addition to internships, job shadowing, and service learning, you get hands-on experience in preparation for your career or graduate school. Students Hanna Kane ’14, Emily Baird ’15, and Alyssa Guarnaccia ’14 collect food in the SJC hoophouse to be distributed on campus. You will also get four years of analytical, writing, and speaking skills that will serve you well for the rest of your life.

  • Images of Students

    Start Your Major Freshman Year

    Get a jump start on your career and have your resume ready to go at graduation.  

  • Images of Students


    Small colleges offer you personal attention; SJC professors do more for you—they serve as mentors.

  • Images of Students

    High Quality Academics

    The Core Program is all about you and your role in the world.


  • Images of Students


    You get more deeply involved at SJC, so you get more meaningful experiences that prepare you for career and life.

  • Images of Students

    Real-life Skills

    Get real-life experience and become an excellent communicator.