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Leigh Moss '98
Principal and Co-Founder, Austin Discovery School
"For the past 10 years I have been working with a fabulous, like-minded group of educators in Austin, TX. It took us a while, but six years ago we opened a K-6 charter school—the Austin Discovery School. Since the first year, we have grown to 390 students. It was my experiences at SLC that really helped shape the path of this school. Earlier in my career I learned that teachers can make a world of difference in their classrooms at their schools, but the potential to provide children with exceptional teachers every year of their education could instill widespread change in the education system. This is what we have set out to do. I know it’s ambitious, but I have had the opportunity to work with some amazing and very dedicated people here in Austin. Yes, there is always room for growth, but I believe our potential to change things here in Texas is great.
Sara Wilford and the other faculty at SLC inspired me. What I want other Art of Teaching students to know is that change is possible—whether it’s going into one school and being the change that can inspire others or starting from the ground up and creating a place that speaks to your heart."
Rachel Wilde '03
Sixth Grade Teacher
"I teach in New York City at the Brooklyn School for Collaborative Study. I’ve been teaching for seven years and have taught at three different schools. At each school I have been a sixth grade teacher, and I have been at my current school for the last four years. I’ve had to really look at how to transpose working with the younger elementary grades into working with older students. I feel like the things that translate immediately are the focus on individual children and trying to get to know their interests and their strengths, and then building upon them: also, an emphasis on being able to structure the environment so that it is an inviting one, to make sure that every part of the environment from the teacher, to the student, to the physical set-up of the space is one that drives and encourages investigation. I really relished each Art of Teaching class. I felt like everything we were asked to read, everything that we were asked to reflect on, was so meaningful and provided for such rich discussion. I thought it was wonderful that in our program we were in a classroom from the moment we began coursework, so that there always was practical experience to inform and contrast with the kind of academic work that we were doing." Watch a video discussion with Rachel and other graduates»
Tonette Mahon '07
Day Care Director
"I came to Art of Teaching through a conference workshop for graduate credit that was held at Westchester Community College through Sarah Lawrence. After I took the workshop I just fell in love with the outlook on progressive learning—and that’s what brought me here. I’ve added a wealth of information and a lot of different tools into my day care—curriculum, child-directed learning, documentation of children that gives parents insight into their child’s day. Working with little ones is the beginning, the foundation, and I have children come to me when they are two and three months, spending seven or eight hours with me before they go home. That’s a big chunk of time and I needed to know for myself how I could better nurture these children and make their days better. So now the days are full for them, with really great activities that they inspire. Art of Teaching has had a big influence because it has given me a different perspective. I went to the workshop at WCC thinking one way, and I left Sarah Lawrence thinking in a whole new direction!"
Jean Paul Maitinsky '89
"While I knew that I wasn’t going to be an academic per se, I knew that the skills I gained from the Art of Teaching program would serve me well. And after a few years working in various early childhood jobs, I sort of opened the doors for myself and discovered museum education which is what brought me to the Hudson River Museum in 1995. Art of Teaching has informed my career in many, many ways. My course on Foundations of Education continues to influence me every day: the thesis I wrote on the history of progressive education from Ancient Greek philosophy right up to John Dewey was one of the seminal experiences of my studies. My commitment to progressive museum work was really shaped by the work I did at the Sarah Lawrence Early Childhood Center and in the Art of Teaching program. This is a place where you can get close to your professors, really ask questions, really have open dialogue and a very intimate experience with your own education."
Milagros Harper '00
College Lab School Early Childhood Teacher
"The most important thing I learned from the program was to listen to children, to follow their interests, and to make the world they work in—the room, their surroundings—viable and interesting and inviting. I used to be someone who had my own opinions about things and really wasn’t interested in what other people had to say. That changed a lot when I came here: the importance of hearing other people’s words and feelings I now carry throughout my entire life. And I rediscovered my own love of art through the Art of Teaching. Art can give a voice to children who don’t have any other way to express themselves. I would say to prospective students 'the Art of Teaching program can put you anywhere, anywhere in this country: you can learn how to teach in spite of any obstacles, and how to do it so that the children will benefit.'"
Julia Lenney '93
Early Childhood Teacher
"I really consider myself a preschool teacher. I did eventually teach first and second grade in both public school and a progressive school in Manhattan—and then went right back to preschool. I worked at an inclusion school in the city for several years, and as a result went on to get a degree in Special Education. I find that so many programs don’t give students time to actually reflect. They come, they do their student teaching for six weeks, and they leave and can barely squeeze in ten minutes to talk about how they feel. I’m eternally loyal to the Art of Teaching program. As a learning experience you just can’t get it anywhere else. In other programs you don’t have the opportunity to really figure out what you are doing in the classroom—not so much what you have to teach, but what you have to know and what you believe."