Alumni Spotlight: Rakiya Adams
Touro College Graduate School of Education (GSE) Alum Showcases New Role as Assistant Principal at Bronxville Elementary School
Adams, a 2011 graduate of the Touro College Graduate School of Education (GSE) Early Childhood and Special Education program from Mt. Vernon, New York, shares what it’s like to be Assistant Principal, how she encourages girls’ interest in STEM, and critical advice for educators starting out in their careers.
Question: What are some of your responsibilities as assistant principal at this top rated elementary school?
A: I started working as Assistant Principal in July and my duties include daily teacher instruction, observing teacher effectiveness in the classroom, student discipline, communicating on a regular basis with parents, and seeking grants that align with the “Bronxville promise” to innovate, lead, think critically and engage the world.
Question: As a STEM resource specialist how do you encourage more students, especially girls, to get excited about these subjects?
A: Getting more students, especially girls, excited about these subjects requires educators to be creative in the way they integrate STEM lessons into their classrooms. One way to do this is to pique their students’ interests with real world connections, specifically showcasing female leaders who have had success in this field including Reshma Saujani, the Founder of Girls Who Code. Creating hands on, engaging lessons where young girls can see a female Software Engineer in action adds to their realization that there are countless possibilities for girls in STEM. It's imperative to seek out opportunities inside and outside of the classroom that require students to take risks and think outside of the box as well.
Question: What are some of the challenges faced by teachers in the classroom today--and how do you think these issues can be resolved?
A: The need for teachers to create lessons that are tailored to the specific students is absolutely critical. This is challenging as it’s difficult to teach a curriculum that touches on global issues and a variety of cultural differences, but it’s important to engage students from different backgrounds. Additionally, always have the concepts of diversity and culture in the classroom top of mind and bring in literature that showcases diverse backgrounds so students can feel represented. Oftentimes there are too many students in New York City classrooms who don’t receive the individual attention they require, so calling attention to this issue and backing it up with research and data that shows the need for smaller classrooms can prompt needed social and systemic changes.
Question: How did your experience at Touro help prepare you for your career?
A:My experience at Touro gave me a solid foundation. I use GSE’s classroom management and lesson planning skills daily to help my teachers see better results from their students.
Question: What advice do you have for future educators to be successful?
A:My answer is simple: believe in yourself and your abilities, work hard, stay updated on education techniques and rising trends, remain inspired no matter how hard it may sometimes seem, and continuously research and then implement best practices in education in class.