For the last entry in her journal for the EdSE 600 course, History and Philosophy of Education, taught by Adjunct Associate Professor Miriam Eckstein-Koas, Kerry McCabe evaluated the class.
Growing up as the daughter of Russian immigrants has its challenges, particularly when you were born and raised in America, don’t speak with an atypical accent, and thus find that educators and other students often take your uniqueness for granted. But Long Island native and Touro Graduate School of Education and Special Education Class of 2013 grad Michelle Zak channeled that experience into an ambition to help others. Now, after nearly a decade of work in and out of the classroom between both Touro and her undergrad years at Binghamton University, the aspiring teacher has a mission to reach kids from all backgrounds without letting cultural differences impede.
Children shape our lives in innumerable, unpredictable ways. Sometimes, they even alter the course of our careers. Irina Khaytman relocated to Brooklyn from Russia in 1989 at 16 years old. After earning her undergraduate degree from NYU, she spent years as a network administrator. She also moved to Hewlett, Long Island to settle down and raise a family. But everything changed when her second son, who’s now heading into fifth grade, was diagnosed with autism.
You’d think a teacher’s assistant with 15 years of experience in the Marine Corps might be a strict classroom disciplinarian. And while Commack, Long Island’s Frank Giampietro certainly keeps his students focused and on-task, structure has simply been in the Graduate School of Education graduate’s lineage since watching his father work long hours and mother raise a family.
Having grown up on Long Island and studied Spanish and education at Stonybrook University, current Kings Park resident Melissa Battista was looking for ways to further her expertise. While pursuing her Master's, she came across Touro’s Graduate School of Education (GSE) Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program and thought, “Well, I like languages, and I’d be teaching a language even though it’s English. Since they were related, I decided to go for that, which I’m very glad I did.”
Greg Ziman didn’t always want to be a teacher. He wanted to fly.
It’s no secret that child-education resources, particularly in urban areas, are often wanting. But thousands of students also lack the intangible support of someone to instill confidence. Recent GSE Teaching Literacy graduate Michael Timar has dedicated his graduate studies and working life to providing that direction for students at John V. Lindsay Wildcat Academy Charter School, which takes in young people who’ve dropped out of or otherwise failed to succeed at public institutions (whether for behavioral or academic reasons).
Growing up in Staten Island, Trish Franzen was constantly surrounded by communities of disparate ethnic and racial backgrounds. Having been sensitive to that environment all her life, it’s not a huge surprise that she’d eventually teach English as a second language. But it wasn’t until earning her undergrad accreditation in Early Childhood Education from the College of Staten Island [CSI] that Franzen made the essential decision to then enroll for her Masters in the TESOL program (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) at Touro’s Graduate School of Education. “When I was in my student teaching [while at CSI], I found myself drawn toward the ESL students and their struggles and what they were all about,” she explains. “I really enjoyed working with them. It made me want to focus on the growing population of ESL students in the DOE and their very specific needs.”
It takes a certain education-hungry mind to acquire their Ph.D from MIT, followed by an MBA from Harvard, and still decide there’s more to learn. Or, for longtime management-consultant Guy Manuel, a desire to apply his decades of experience in a different environment: the classroom. That’s why, in 2010, after 22 years in the business world, Manuel pursued—and recently completed—his Masters in Mathematics Education at Touro.
Nowadays, a huge number of math enthusiasts with teaching degrees ultimately put their skills to use in trades like engineering or corporate management. Both paths are understandable. They provide a certain amount of fiscal comfort and presumed longevity. But if all our algebra and calculus experts are applying their knowledge in peripherally related fields, there’ll be fewer qualified individuals teaching basic sequential knowhow to the next generation of students.