by Jordan Chapman“[Ammon School of Education professors] not only taught me the tools and knowledge of my content area, but also provided me with the skills to work together to ensure the success of our students.” — Jen Meisel ’11
For the average elementary school student, the first day of school starts out with a book bag full of supplies, the scent of desk cleaner and the reconvening of friends made from summer hangouts. Yet, behind the smiles and secret handshakes is the ever-mounting mixture of wonder and fear of one unknown, the teacher.
Alicia Castro ’10 and Jen Meisel ‘11 are two Adelphi alumnae who can claim such a title for dozens of eager learners inside and outside of New York. With both boasting success stories within different teaching atmospheres, they agree that the challenges they are facing every day are solvable by looking back to their Panther educations and experiences.
“[Ruth S. Ammon School of Education professors] would tell us the truth. This is the reality and they would show us what to expect,” said Ms. Castro (pictured left), who teaches two sets of about 25 students in the ways of science and math twice a day at Templeton Elementary School in Riverdale, Maryland. Along with learning her environment during her first semester of teaching, Ms. Castro has had to adjust to the school’s 700-strong student count, many of whom are enrolled in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program. Yet, she’s thriving and loving her students, colleagues and the slower pace every state and city has to offer when coming from New York.
Ms. Meisel, too, has a new challenge to face every day. As a full-time substitute teacher at Farragut Middle School in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, she could be teaching anything to anyone, five times a week. “[Ammon School of Education professors] not only taught me the tools and knowledge of my content area, but also provided me with the skills to work together to ensure the success of our students,” the Master of Science in Literacy graduate said, also mentioning classroom management as an invaluable skill she learned at AU. “Being a substitute teacher, you are placed in a different classroom everyday. I use the [Adelphi] education that I have to help me adjust to all the different settings and to each teacher’s different classroom management style.”
Despite the worries some education students have about finding teaching positions after graduation, these two graduates are proof that it’s not only possible, but rewarding and lucrative. Though there are many opportunities within the area, Ms. Meisel and Ms. Castro encourage any graduating student to keep his or her options open, in terms of placement. “Other states may have more openings,” Ms. Meisel said, but she explained that substitute teaching is a great way to get started no matter where you are.
“Not only does (substitute teaching) give me classroom experience, but I have the opportunity to see different teaching styles, strategies and methods that I can use when I have my own classroom,” she said, noting she often gets the chance to be creative with her class. “It…gives me the opportunity to show how resourceful I am if there are no lesson plans left for me.”
Like her peer, Ms. Castro has found a welcoming home with her teaching position. “The people here are really friendly. I love my profession,” she said, and she couldn’t have done it without Adelphi, and the wait was worth it.
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