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New York City

A New Series on College Deans
Entering the Dean’s Office:
Alfred Posamentier, Dean, School of Education, CCNY

By Pola Rosen, Ed.D.

Entering into Dean Alfred Posamentier’s office, the eye is tantalized by a splendid array of gem-like antique maps, prints and memorabilia of the composer, Richard Wagner, all so closely displayed that one cannot see the color on the wall. Reflections of the dean’s deep interest in music and mathematics abound, reflecting his deep abiding respect for learning and education. Indeed, according to Posamentier, “education reflects who we are, what we want to do and our mission.” His comments are inspiring to his students for they are the ones to go out in the world to teach others.

Now in its 80th year, the School of Education at City College, the first school of education founded in the City University of New York (CUNY) system, is the educational home of over 2500 graduate and undergraduate students aspiring to join the teaching profession. And, most of the school’s graduates offer their services to the urban public school system. In an effort to better equip graduates for the professional world, the school recently completed the re-registration process required by the State of New York, which redesigned its requirements for teacher certification. To meet the new requirements the school had to revamp its own curriculum and standards.

“It forced us to redefine our goals and to conduct a total revaluation of what we do as a school of education,” said Doris Cintron, Chair/Deputy Dean of the School of Education.

The process took two years and encountered several obstacles, which according to Cintron included “Getting a group of people together, validating their ideas, respecting their field, but saying that change has to happen.”

In addition to revamping the curriculum, raising standards and providing students and staff with more support services, Posamentier sought to give the school greater visibility through enhancing publicity and strengthening recruiting efforts. Changes included “the tenor of the place” to give the school “immediate credibility,” limited because only 40 percent of students passed the state LAST exam in 1999 when he was appointed. “The college staff was demoralized because we had the almost the lowest passing percentage of graduates in the state,” Posamentier stated.

His efforts produced results: two years later, scores rose to an 87 percent pass rate. Citing the novel approach to revamping the school, the dean stressed as his goal, “to create from our professional point of view the best teachers we can.” In describing the size of the faculty, Posamentier indicated that it was continuously increasing, indicating “a favorable future that fostered stability and dedication.” The future also holds remarkable innovations. The faculty has unanimously voted to partition the school into three departments—Language and Literacy, Curriculum and Instruction and Administration, Supervision and Special Education. Other new initiatives include the inauguration of a national, quarterly education journal, The New Educator Journal. This peer review journal will soon be launched.

Other future plans that Dean Posamentier will implement include a center for Science and Math education, which will further enhance its already strong math and science teacher development programs, and builds on CCNY’s strengths in science and engineering.

“One of the things we have strived for is to become the leader in CUNY in Science and Math Education,” said Posamentier.

“I want especially to use our fine programs for science and math teachers to help the NYC Board of Education solve its shortage of teachers in these areas and to provide direct enrichment for the students in the schools.”

According to Cintron, “We are educators for the city…We have a faculty that really knows and understands urban education,” said Cintron. “We know the needs of inner city schools and student populations and prepare teachers and leaders that will effectively meet all challenges.”

Dean Posamentier introduced Prof. Catherine Fosnot and her innovative work with elementary math teachers. This will definitely warrant a future visit to the halls of academia uptown on Amsterdam Avenue and 135th Street.#


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