Bank Street College of Education Graduation
At this year’s Bank Street College of Education commencement for teachers receiving individualized Masters degrees in Education, graduates shared stories about their nascent careers as educators in diverse urban communities.
“As a middle school teacher, part of what makes it challenging is the immense pressure (students feel) not to appear stupid as they say,” said Maura Griffin tearfully during her speech to her fellow classmates during the ceremony held at Riverside Church in Manhattan. Ms. Griffin received a Middle School Special and General Education Dual Certification. During her speech, she remembered a sixth grader named Charles who refused to engage in a writing assignment. She said at that moment she felt humbled and feared how she will sustain herself as an educator in New York City.
Like her, other teachers said they experienced similar circumstances and had to learn how to forgive themselves because they will not always engage each student. “As a teacher you are very critical of yourself,” said Charuta Joshi, a math enrichment specialist who received a Masters of Science in Education.
Following commencement, a catered reception was held at the Church in South Hall. Graduate Elisabeth Morris was all smiles during the reception hosted by the college. She had been commuting from Maryland for the last three years while also working as a math specialist in Virginia. She was glad to have finally earned a Masters of Science degree in Leadership in Mathematics Education. “Its about how to engage kids and become the best math teacher you could,” she said.
During commencement, Dr. Maritza B. MacDonald, a Bank Street alumna and Director of Education and Policy at the American Museum of Natural History and Katie Salen, a professor of design and technology at Parsons The New School for Design, were given honorary degrees. Also, Lia Gelb, Program Director of Studies in Education was recognized for 54 years of service as an educator.
Bank Street College of Education opened in 1916 as the Bureau of Educational Experiments. Its focus was on the study of child development and education. In the 1930s the institution began training teachers. The school’s unique foundation is based on creating an environment for students in urban schools that develops and sustains their academic success. Bank Street’s pedagogical approach relies on experimental teaching techniques, differentiated instruction, addressing the needs of each student and understanding household dynamics through the study of diverse cultures and family structures.
Bank Street’s faculty trains teachers and leaders in schools, museums, and other educational settings. Peggy McNamara, Chair of General Teacher Education said that educators are trained to move students forward despite of the difficult circumstances and environments students face. “I think this graduating class are going into an environment that may be disrespectful but they are so respectful,” she said. “They understand accountability to their students, to colleagues and parents,” she added.
The philosophy of the Bank Street College of Education lives on: educators are not only taught the nuts and bolts of educating disadvantaged children but also learn how to teach effectively in the classroom. The American school system is in good hands if its teachers are Bank Street graduates. #