During her time at Adelphi, Jane Hartigan's passion for literacy education grew.

by Rachel Voorhees

“Adelphi really helped me put theory into practice.” –Jane Hartigan

After 25 years in the investment banking industry, Jane Hartigan, M.S. ’03, was on yet another business trip when it occurred to her that she wasn’t happy in her career.

“I realized that a lot of what I was doing was trying to make money for companies, rather than helping people,” Ms. Hartigan said. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in English and prior experience as a literacy volunteer, she decided to follow her passion—and Adelphi University played a major role in her career transition.

Because she lived and worked just a few miles from the Garden City campus, Ms. Hartigan visited Adelphi and found that the school provided the right program and a convenient location to pursue a graduate degree in literacy. Despite feeling nervous about returning to school after many years away, she made a schedule that worked best for her and began taking courses in the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education in Summer 2001.

“It was time for a change while I still had the opportunity for a second career,” Ms. Hartigan said.

Ms. Hartigan’s first class at Adelphi was a literacy course taught by Maryellen Rafferty, M.S., director of the Literacy Center. Once she realized that Ms. Rafferty understood her unique position as a highly experienced professional looking to change careers, the professor became a constant source of encouragement.

“If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be a teacher,” said Ms. Hartigan, who has been teaching for the past eight years.

“Jane is a very bright individual,” Ms. Rafferty said. “She has a wealth of knowledge about many things, so [my job] was to make sure she had the basic foundations of education.”

During her time at Adelphi, Ms. Hartigan’s passion for literacy education grew.

“What I like about teaching is that it gives the opportunity to make a difference to individuals,” she said. “Through reading, you could actually give someone a gift that they can take with them long after your relationship with them has ended.”

Through her studies at Adelphi, Ms. Hartigan learned not only how to diagnose reading skills, but also about the importance of reflection.

“Adelphi really helped me put theory into practice,” she said. “I learned to think about my teaching.”

In Ms. Rafferty’s view, the ability to reflect is an essential skill for a teacher.

“Instincts can’t be taught,” she said. “Jane is able to sense what a child needs and think about what to do.”

Ms. Hartigan is a reading specialist for grades K–5 at Northside Elementary School in Farmingdale, New York. She is using the teaching skills she learned at Adelphi to make a difference in the lives of students. That is exactly what she wanted to do all along.

“I’ve found my niche here,” Ms. Hartigan said.

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