|Roberta Udoh '10|
All roads led to Brandeis. It was not hard to choose to apply to the MAT program. I was looking for a teaching program that would weave together my personal life and political /community activist experiences, and prepare me to teach in the Boston Public school system. And this was it! I have been working, paid and unpaid, with children for decades. I have been a youth worker in various capacities, an at-home parent and volunteer in my 2 daughters’ schools, and recently a teacher for Girls’ LEAP, an anti-violence prevention program in the Boston area. I am committed to taking all my wonderful positive life experiences into the classroom in the hope that I may inspire a child to dream of a better future.
Meet MAT Public Elementary Students and Graduates
Students entering the MAT in Public Elementary Education bring curiosity, willingness to take risks, deep capacity for care and a remarkable diversity of life experiences.
Graduating from the program, they commit themselves wholeheartedly to the children they teach, the schools they join, or to whatever other projects they may undertake. They do good work that makes a difference.
Here are a few of their stories, thoughts about their experience in the MAT program and thoughts about the marvelous and occasionally seemingly impossible work of teaching.
While I was working at an elementary afterschool program in Cambridge, teaching math and science electives, I learned that the rewards of teaching stem from the challenges of teaching. A child's academic progress and social development bring joy to a teacher because of the vast amount of thought and effort that the teacher puts into that child's relationship with the world. I love working with children because there are so few givens, so many exceptions, and so many opportunities to positively impact a child. I am excited to study at Brandeis because the Brandeis program will prepare me to face the daunting challenges that teachers face every day. At Brandeis, I will work toward excellence in my passion: helping children become driven, reflective, considerate citizens.
Kim graduated from Boston University. Before she became a part of the MAT program, Kim worked in various fields including sales, marketing and banking. She is currently part of Cohort 8 of the Public Elementary concentration.
I chose teaching as a career because I wanted to do something that is both rewarding and has the potential for growth. My long term goal is to head into education administration, but I am very excited to complete the MAT program at Brandeis University and begin teaching elementary kids.
Selah received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature, minors; Runyakitara and Drama in Uganda. Why Brandeis MAT?
The philosophy of education upheld by the department is very similar to my philosophy of education. I believe that quality education should be a right to all irrespective of their social, economic, religious or another background. The quality of education one receives in the early stages of development greatly affect the way their future outlook on and success in life. I hope to be an agent of change in education system especially in Uganda. Create a model of instruction where children are encouraged to inquire, debate and love acquiring information.Back to top
Though I didn’t major in Education as an undergraduate, I had in the back of my head that teaching was right for me. So, in starting this program, I’m extremely excited to finally feel like I’m on the right path headed toward a field I truly believe in. My love of learning and respect for children has always fueled my ambition to become a teacher. I am very committed to sharing that love of learning, as well as my fun attitude and value of education with students. I’m eager to learn as much as I can in this program so I may make the most powerful impact as an elementary school teacher in my future classrooms.
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My name is Leah Golden and I am so excited to be part of Cohort 8! Before attending the Master’s program at Brandeis I did my undergrad at the University of New Hampshire. I had a double major in Family Studies and Justice Studies with a minor in Education. I have always known that I wanted to be a teacher and put myself on that path in my undergrad. I have much experience with children through coursework and internships and am very enthused to be interning in a fourth grade classroom for the year!
I knew I wanted to be a teacher in the first grade. I had the most amazing teacher who genuinely cared about me as a learner. I always came home and played school and would always talk to my mother (who is a teacher) about my day. I have worked at a day camp and babysat children from ages 9 months-12 years old. I find nothing more rewarding than helping a child who is struggling with a topic and seeing how happy they are once they have mastered it. I love working with children and cannot wait to have a career in which I can do that every day!Back to top
Josh Goldman hails from Weymouth, MA and just completed his undergraduate degree at Brandeis with a BA in Music focusing in
Percussion Performance. He has been an avid performer in and around Brandeis and Boston for the past 4 years, as well as places as far and wide as Orlando, Washington D.C., Madison, WI and everywhere in between. Josh has also been a counselor for the past three years at Great Esker Park in Weymouth, educating children about nature, conservation and outdoor activities such as canoeing, kayaking, fishing and camping.
My name is Nicholas Long. I had been working as a social worker for eight years in disadvantaged communities in both NYC and Boston prior to coming into the MAT program at Brandeis. The biggest reason I decided to become a teacher was because I loved the teaching aspects of being a social worker and I wanted to focus more on teaching in my career in the future. In many ways, I see becoming a teacher in the inner city as an extension of my social work career. I chose to come to the MAT program at Brandeis after considering several schools. The reason I chose Brandeis was the commitment to teaching for democratic learning that I saw imbued in the philosophy. I have always wanted to be on the progressive end of teaching and learning. I found that very much a part of the philosophy here at Brandeis. I also love the MAT program's full year placement in a classroom as I believe it would give me a lot of valuable experience. I am very excited for my future as a teacher and feel that I will be very prepared because of my education here.Back to top
Janice grew up in Westwood, MA, and received her Bachelor of Arts from Colby College. She currently lives in Roslindale.
I am thrilled to be starting the MAT program at Brandeis. I am coming into Education after spending 20 years in footwear marketing and product development. I am excited about this change because I have wanted to be a teacher for most of my life. I have always held teachers in high regard, but for one reason or another, the timing wasn’t right for me to make this change – until now. My volunteer work in the past year with elementary school age children from the Family Nurturing Program in Roslindale reminded me how much I love working with children. It also reminded me how much I can learn from them.
One reason I want to become a teacher is that I think teachers hold one of the most important jobs in our society today. I believe that constantly finding ways to improve our public education system should be a top priority for our government leaders. I am becoming a teacher because I want to understand how the system works now and I want to be constantly thinking about how to improve it so each student receives the same high quality education no matter where he or she lives. Gaining experience as a teacher will be crucial to this process. One reason I am specifically interested in this Brandeis MAT degree is because I value the liberal arts approach and emphasis on social justice and the aim to improve children’s life chances. Additionally, I am impressed with the fact that I will be with the same class of elementary school students for a complete school year, not just a 2 month internship. This will provide me with a world of experience and give my confidence a boost when I step up to lead my own classroom after I graduate. I am proud that I am brave enough to formally continue learning at this stage of my life and I hope to become a teacher who will foster a lifelong love of learning in my students.Back to top
I just graduated from Carleton College, a small liberal arts school in Minnesota, with a major in history and a minor in educational studies. I have always wanted to be a teacher and am excited to finally be concretely on that path, though I feel I’ve been on the “teacher path” since elementary school. Because I love all learning and therefore all subjects, it broke my heart to think of picking just one to teach, which is partly why I’m really excited to teach in elementary school. I’m also excited about giving children a basis for understanding and building blocks or tools with which to continue learning all their lives. I believe that elementary school is the place to really be able to affect students and their attitudes towards learning and I want to be part of making learning exciting, fun and wonderful for all children.Back to top
Roberta Udoh '11 (Kohl Fellow, Cohort VI) is doing her MAT teaching-internship at the Everett School in Boston, an assignment to which she brings a great deal, as you can see from her reflections shortly after joining the program last summer:
All roads led to Brandeis. It was not hard to choose to apply to the MAT program. I was looking for a teaching program that would weave together my personal life and political /community activist experiences, and prepare me to teach in the Boston Public school system. And this was it! I have been working, paid and unpaid, with children for decades. I have been a youth worker in various capacities, an at home parent and volunteer in my 2 daughters’ schools, and recently a teacher for Girls’ LEAP, an anti-violence prevention program in the Boston area. While at Girls’ LEAP, it became clear to me that I needed to give back to a population of students with whom I strongly identify. I just obtained my B.A. last year! I am committed to taking all my wonderful positive life experiences into the classroom in the hope that I may inspire a child to dream of a better future. Also, I just so love this population. Their struggles have been my struggles. And I LOVE to dance and hope to take my dancing spirit into the classroom! Oh and be silly too!Back to top
Kimberly Canuto ’08 (Kohl Fellow, Cohort III) teaches second grade at the Neighborhood Charter School in Dorchester, Mass. Shortly before graduation last summer, she wrote:
Before enrolling in the Brandeis Master of Arts in Teaching: Public Elementary Program, I attended Wheelock College in Boston. As an undergraduate student, I was ambitious about becoming a teacher and eager to improve the educational experiences of children from a diversity of backgrounds. After looking at other teacher-preparation programs, I decided on Brandeis because it was the best place to help me attain these goals. Being a student at Brandeis has been a truly phenomenal experience. Professors, colleagues and other faculty members have all been very supportive. The knowledge and skills I have gained here will help me continue to develop throughout my entire teaching career. I believe that the Brandeis MAT program prepares individuals to become effective educators dedicated to the lives of all children.
Allison Mandel ’08 (Cohort III) came to Brandeis after working as an executive assistant in a large corporate office. She came into teaching, and the MAT program, because she “wanted to be in a profession where (she) would be able to make social change by enriching the lives of children.” While in the MAT, she did her internship at the Joseph Lee Elementary School in Dorchester. Nearing graduation from the MAT, she wrote, “One of the things I love most about the MAT program is that it actively fosters creativity and imaginative learning.” In September of 2010, heading into her third year out, she writes:
My name is Allison Mandel and I graduated from the MAT Public Elementary program in 2008. I am currently teaching at Aichi International School in Nagoya, Japan. I am the main Grade 2 teacher as well as the Math teacher for Grades 3, 4 and 5. My students are 90% native Japanese. They are bilingual in Japanese and English. I teach Math, Science and Literacy to my 2nd graders in English; and a native Japanese teacher comes in to teach the same subjects in Japanese. It really is a unique and lovely school. I am very lucky to have the experiences that I do. The MAT program gave me so much direction and insight into who I was as a person and how I wanted to interact with the world around me. I learned and grew so much during my year at Brandeis. I've been lucky to receive continued support since I've graduated. I want to send sincere gratitude to my mentors and teachers and good luck to all of the future Cohorts!Back to top
Leah Proctor ’08 (Cohort III) is a resource-room teacher at the Stanley Elementary School in Waltham. Reflecting on her experiences last spring, she wrote:
Studying with Brandeis has been both humbling and amazing. This has by far been the hardest year of my life, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Brandeis’ MAT program will work you to your core, and it’s more than worth it. You will grow as an educator and a person.Back to top
Katalin Wiggins ’08 (Kohl Fellow, Cohort III) teaches third grade at the Northeast Elementary School in Waltham. Reflecting on her experiences last spring, she wrote:
My undergraduate degree was in magazine journalism. Before entering the Brandeis Master of Art in Teaching: Public Elementary program, I was working as a layout artist and graphic designer for several publications. (Note: Katalin designed the image on the right side of this page.) I decided to become a teacher because I wanted to do something meaningful with my life and have a positive influence on future generations. I love being in the MAT program! Our cohort clicked right away, and working within such a small group allows for a comfortable and intimate learning environment. I enjoy learning to teach in an academic context that is so focused on developing independent-minded teachers. Also, the year-long internship in one classroom is an amazing experience that isn’t offered by most other teacher preparation programs.Back to top
Marianne Stabile '07 (Kohl Fellow, Cohort II) teaches 3rd grade at Rock Springs Elementary School in Lawrenceville, GA. More than a third of her students are English Language Learners, making her glad she decided to do her MAT teacher research project on the varied opportunities formal and informal contexts in school afforded students for learning English as a new language. She urges MAT's on the job market to consider teaching positions in the South. She would be happy to talk with anyone interested in looking for a job in her area; she would also be happy to meet with anyone in her area who was considering the MAT program.
Marianne also serves as a mentor to high school students considering going into teaching. At the close of her first post - MAT year of teaching she wrote:
So many of the things I learned in the MAT program are things I have directly applied in my real work as a teacher this year. For example, my colleagues and administrators were impressed at my understanding of which interventions would be appropriate for helping my students with learning disabilities. I had a student who had characteristics of Asperger's Syndrome, and I told my assistant principal some of the ideas I had learned for helping such a student. She asked how I knew this and I told her about a paper I wrote for the special ed class on the subject. She asked that I email her my paper because she wanted to learn more about interventions for children with Asperger's! I've never heard of a first-year teacher who felt 100% prepared to go out on her own, but as my first year comes to an end, I can see that Brandeis gave me more than enough of the skills and knowledge I needed to thrive in my new position.
Update, April '09: Marianne writes that she is off on a new adventure next year.
I took a job teaching 4th grade at the American International School of Abu Dhabi, which is near Dubai in the United Arab Emirates! I am really excited. It's a private school that serves a whole range of nationalities using the IB (International Baccalaureate) Primary Years Program, and - no NCLB! I leave in August and can't wait. Stop by and visit...
Read Marianne's blog about her new teaching adventure in Abu Dhabi at http://missmarista.wordpress.comBack to top
Brian Bisceglia-Kane ’06 (Kohl Fellow, Cohort I) teaches third grade at the Daniel Butler School in Belmont, Mass. Previously, he taught children exhibiting challenging behaviors and emotional difficulties at the Horace Mann Elementary School in Newton, Mass. He writes:
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the Master of Arts in Teaching: Public Elementary program at Brandeis is an established culture of thinking. Dirck Roosevelt and the other professors at Brandeis created a supportive environment that I think is very necessary for new teachers. They encouraged me to try new things, even when I was hesitant to do so. During my internship, there were good days and bad days; it was always reassuring to know that my professors were there to talk about those “difficult moments” I had in the classroom. These conversations pushed my thinking as a student, and helped me become a more confident and focused teacher. I felt extremely well-prepared to begin teaching after my completion of the MAT program.Back to top
Efrat Kussell '06 (Kohl Fellow, Cohort I) teaches sixth grade math at the Explore Charter School, in Brooklyn NY. This is her fourth year at the school. Since graduating from Brandeis, she also taught a fifth-sixth grade combination classroom at the Cambridgeport School in Cambridge, MA. She has written:
Each day I teach, I find myself thinking about something I learned or experienced at Brandeis. This statement may seem obvious, but the truth is, for many, teaching can feel like a strenuous routine; it is easily possible for a teacher to stop thinking deeply about his or her practice.
More than anything else, the Brandeis MAT has given me the long-lasting ability to reflect on and make meaning of the daily happenings in my class. My experience as a teacher is always exciting because I have been trained to think clearly about teaching, to grapple with problems, to feel confident in the decisions I make and to ask questions that are important to my practice.
I've heard that teaching is considered a lonely profession. Many teachers feel isolated when facing the inevitable challenges of the classroom. Setting itself apart from most MAT or M.Ed. programs, Brandeis has followed me each step of the way through continued discussions with my cohort, my professors and the teachers I met during my yearlong internship. It's been four years since I received my MAT from Brandeis, and never once have I felt alone.
And here is a September 2010 bulletin from Efrat:
So far the 6th graders seem to be acclimating well to their new grade level. My homeroom class is particularly lovely - they are a very reflective and kind group and I'm constantly impressed by the ideas they come up with. On the first day of math class, we were discussing the 3 values excellent math students embody: kindness, productivity and curiosity - and I asked the kids what it might mean to be curious in math class. A few kids gave responses like "asking questions," "trying out new ways of doing things," "thinking outside the box," and then C______ (who was my second grade student 4 years ago) said, "I think being curious means that you are really wondering about why other people think the way they do and you want to find out." I was so excited when she said that because I was so surprised by the depth of her comment. I told her that wondering about why other people think the way they do is what I do all day long - that that's a big part of being a teacher - and that I am thrilled to know that I'll have company in doing so.
Editorial comment: And that - wondering about other minds - is a big part of why teaching can be such a thrilling thing to do.Back to top