Even though I grew up on Long Island in Port Washington for almost all of my young adult life, I feel very proud of the fact that I was actually born in Manhattan. I was very fortunate to go to a terrific public high school, where I found myself particularly interested in music, history, and English classes. I also became actively involved with our school’s jazz band, marching band, choir, chamber choir, Lincoln-Douglas debates, and the tennis team.
When I first began my studies at Hamilton College I planned to become a history major. My plans were changed after my first week in my Introduction to Philosophy course. Every week our professor asked us to write a two-page paper discussing a particular controversial issue, such as whether the government ought to collect taxes, whether euthanasia ought to be permitted, and other challenging questions. As this was a two-page assignment, we were required to focus on one side of the issue for the first page, and adopt the opposite point of view for the second. It was this weekly assignment that made me decide to become a Philosophy major. I knew that any discipline that encourages people to approach problems by embracing different perspectives was something that I wanted to be a part of.
During the fall semester of my junior year I studied abroad in Stirling, Scotland. The rocky outcroppings and quaint towns in Scotland provided a fantastic landscape for continuing my philosophical studies, provided it wasn’t raining. Surprisingly the weather in Scotland felt even colder and darker than Central New York. Despite the fact that we had no sunlight after 4 pm, my time in Scotland helped me to develop a love of traveling, and I have been very fortunate to have made several trips backpacking around the United and Continental Europe.
After my studies at Hamilton I decided that I wanted to develop a career working for social justice. I became a community organizer in Cassel, which is a small low-income community on Long Island. In New Cassel I used my skills as a group facilitator and my
knowledge of the Spanish language to encourage and to motivate residents to work for positive change in their community. Later, as Program Associate for Youth and Community Development at Lawyers Alliance for New York, I collaborated with school leaders and administrators from New York City schools, and with senior staff at city nonprofit organizations. My work in the not-for-profit sector confirmed that my ideal career would allow me to share my knowledge of a subject that I loved as a way to empower people to improve their own lives. I realized that the best way for me to use my skills and passions was to become a teacher of English.
After deciding to teach English, I went to Teachers College, Columbia University to receive my Master’s degree. Before beginning my teaching at Columbia Secondary School I completed the second phase of student teaching at Brooklyn Technical High School, where I designed and taught an American Literature curriculum to sophomores. During the prior semester I student-taught seventh grade Humanities classes at the Urban Assembly Academy for Arts and Letters in Brooklyn and worked as a coach for young writers. Now that I have completed my student teaching I am so very excited to work with such bright, curious minds at Columbia Secondary School.