1. What is one sentence you would use to describe who you are and what you do?
I’m a high school English teacher as well as a literacy/writing tutor specializing in ACT/SAT, college essays, and other personal statements.
2. Did you take the GRE? If so, what was your experience studying for the GRE like?
I did not; my program did not require it at the time.
3. Why did you decide to go to grad school? What program did you attend? How did you choose your specific program?
I decided to go to graduate school because I felt it would give me the strongest possible grounding for my future teaching career. I chose the Secondary English Education Program at Columbia Teachers College because it fuses theory and practice through coursework at night and supervised student teaching during the day. I was especially drawn to the excellent student teaching opportunities the program provided. I really wanted that mentorship component and was very blessed to have worked under two fabulous educators during my student teaching placements.
4. How do you feel your graduate degree has impacted your career?
My program at Teachers College was very committed to cultural competence and social justice pedagogy. The professors frequently challenged ideas about what constitutes “the canon” and championed literature that reflects the diversity of our students’ lives. The program also helped me understand “reading” and “writing” as more expansive practices; for instance, while many students are resistant to traditional reading and writing, literacy is at play in their lives constantly, be it while they scrutinize ads on the subway or analyze the tone of a friend’s text message. This awareness has led to more inclusivity, creativity, and fun in my classroom.
On a more practical level, the program impacted my career through the connections I made there. Both of my student teaching placements broadened my professional network in a new city, and I was connected to the principal at my first job through one of my favorite graduate school professors.
5. Do you have any advice for someone interested in pursuing a degree in education?
Almost as important as the degree are the fellow teachers you will meet in your program. I met such incredible educators who I feel privileged to call friends, but also to look to for teaching ideas and inspiration. I have both helped other TC alums get jobs and have been helped in turn. My best advice is to invest in and nurture those peer relationships!
Learn more about Alexa at her tutoring website: www.pennpalstutoring.com