“Everyone has a story and every story matters," said Diana Muxworthy Feige, Ed.D., clinical associate professor with the College of Education and Health Sciences' Ruth S. Ammon School of Education.
By Choya Randolph, M.F.A. ’18
“Everyone has a story and every story matters,” said Diana Muxworthy Feige, Ed.D., clinical associate professor with the College of Education and Health Sciences’ Ruth S. Ammon School of Education.
This was the beginning of Inside the Teacher’s Classroom, a conversation with alumni and future teachers about the craft of teaching, held in the Center for Recreation and Sports on April 11. More than 75 people attended.
Co-sponsored by the Office of Alumni Relations, CEHS and The Education Alumni Affinity Group, Inside the Teacher’s Classroom is also a Count on Adelphi for Career Help (C.O.A.C.H.) event. As such, it allows alumni to share information regarding their career path and meet others in their field, and for students to gain insight on various professions.
Dr. Feige hosted—for the last time, since she is about to retire—and led a conversation with four panelists, each with a diverse background in education. Each shared their story and gave advice to the soon-to-be teachers in the room.
One of the panelists, David Reilly, had years of experience teaching fourth-grade students. It was where he felt comfortable but then he was hired to teach first grade. “First day was a flop,” he recalled. Reilly took a step back to see what should be changed and has successfully been teaching first grade in Bellmore for years.
“Take advantage of colleagues. It helped me think of things I haven’t before,” Reilly advised. “Use your resources.”
Grace Polson, a high school chemistry teacher in Mineola, had a similar first day of teaching. The first day she “taught it wrong” and wasn’t sure how to move forward. She was advised to not let the students know so she wouldn’t look weak. Instead, the next day she told the students to rip out that page in their notebooks and retaught it.
“It’s okay to make mistakes because we’re growing together,” she said.
When asked why he became a teacher, Adrian Brookes, a secondary education English language arts (ELA) teacher in the Bronx, said he didn’t know he was going to be a teacher. He came to an Adelphi open house, made friends, and then decided to major in English since he loved to read.
“It’s not a straight line but a squiggly line,” he said. “I’m 10 years in and last year was so humbling. But the key to being a teacher are the small victories, which you get a lot.”
Rebecca Raymond, principal at Brookhaven Elementary, agreed with Brookes. She mentioned that there are days when teachers are crying in their cars, but “those are the moments when you know that this field is for you.” She urged attendees to be certain in choosing their field “because it’s bigger than just a job. We’re impacting a future, so finding those small moments and celebrating them are important,” she said. “Never stop growing. There may be hard times but look back at where you were.”
After the panel, Anne Mungai, Ph.D., the College’s interim dean, awarded Dr. Feige with a plaque and thanked her for all she has done for Adelphi. Patrice Armstrong-Leach, the College’s assistant dean, noted that “Inside the Teacher’s Classroom is Diana’s brainchild.”
Dr. Feige said, “This was the ninth Inside the Teacher’s Classroom. I was the one who thought of it and brought the idea to the Office of Alumni Relations. But it was always planned and organized with two alumni [facilitators], Mark Kenny [’99, M.A. ’00], and Jessica Schust [’00, M.A. ’01], both former STEP students, hand in hand with the Office of Alumni Relations. In other words, from the start a precious, collegial team effort.”
Others showed their appreciation as well. A group of students thanked Dr. Feige for helping them become the teachers they’ll soon be. Teary-eyed but smiling, they gave her a bouquet of flowers and a card. “I was very moved and grateful,” Dr. Feige said later. “It made me reflect even more on my 25 years at Adelphi, especially in terms of how much I’ve enjoyed working closely with the students.”
To conclude the event, attendees shared what teaching was for them.
“Teaching is making a difference.”
“Teaching is realizing that everyone has a story.”
“Teaching is my passion.”
“Teaching is the opportunity to help students ask questions, think and expand their surroundings.”
“Teaching is who we were and are now. Teaching is all of those things and more.”
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