Cassandra Hyacinthe '90

Assistant Principal, Mount Vernon High School, Mount Vernon, NY

Foundations/Motivations: Had experience with her own and other children
Experiences: Gained background in educational theory at SLC
Results: Teaches, is pursuing advanced degree in school administration

Foundations/Motivations

Cassandra Hyacinthe has long been surrounded by children, beginning at the youth-oriented Catholic parish in Philadelphia where she grew up. Then, during high school and college, she participated in the Camp Fire Girls program. Later came her children—and their friends, who were always attracted to Cassandra’s house. So when she moved to New York in 1987, teaching seemed to be the way to go.

Undergraduate:

B.A., French, University of Pennsylvania (1983)

Work before SLC:

  • Group leader, Camp Fire Girls youth development organization
  • Wife, mother of two children, Alexander and Kimberly

Experiences

Sarah Lawrence’s Art of Teaching is more theoretical than other programs, and that’s just what Cassandra liked about it. “It was very different, but it made a lot of sense,” she says. “It prepares you with a strong foundation in child development where other programs have a tendency to focus more on methodology.” Through her course work, discussions with professors, work at Sarah Lawrence’s Early Childhood Center, and student teaching, Cassandra learned about a range of educational theories. “I feel we were on the cutting edge of educational reform,” she says. “My first exposure to many of the new educational programs currently shaping literacy and other areas of instruction started at Sarah Lawrence.”

Fieldwork:

  • Student teacher, first and sixth grades, Mamaroneck Avenue School, Mamaroneck, New York (1989–90)
  • Teaching assistant, four-year-olds, Sarah Lawrence Early Childhood Center (1989)

Thesis:

“An ‘Edifying’ Educational Philosophy for African American Children”
Through her master’s project, Cassandra explored the characteristics of a learning environment that strengthens and empowers children and studied the importance of relationships at every level, particularly for poor and minority children. “Building strong and supportive relationships with children was essential to me once I was in the classroom,” Cassandra says. “And it’s something that’s still very relevant to my teaching.”

Results

After completing the Art of Teaching program, Cassandra stayed on campus as program coordinator for the Child Development Institute. She then moved on to Ridgeway School, where she still teaches 11 years later. She’s mentored eight student teachers and three new teachers; she’s served on committees on the district level. Today she’s also working toward a certificate of advanced study, which will allow her to work at the school building or district administrative level. “Sarah Lawrence has a great program,” Cassandra says. “I think my positive teaching can be attributed to my commitment to understanding and valuing children. The children love me and know that I’m sincere. They know I respect them. Because of that, I can ask a lot of them.”

Further Education:

Certificate of Advanced Study in School Administration and Supervision, State University of New York (SUNY) New Paltz
M.S. Ed., Sarah Lawrence College (1990)

Career:

  • Teacher, Ridgeway School, White Plains School District (1993–present)
  • Nominated for Raymond R. Delaney Scholarship, New York State Council of School Superintendents (2004)
  • Economics Education Consultant, New York State Council on Economic Education, SUNY Purchase, New York (2000–02)
  • Economics Instructor, Great Potential Summer Enrichment Program, SUNY Purchase, New York (2001, 2002)
  • Freelance Educational Curriculum Writer, Black Enterprise Unlimited/KidpreneursNews, New York, New York (1999–2001)
  • Staff Development Representative/Policy Board Member, White Plains City School District (1996–2001)
  • Program Coordinator, Sarah Lawrence Child Development Institute (1990–93)
  • Consultant, Early Childhood Center, Greenburgh Central #7 District, Greenburgh, New York (1991, 1992)

Advocacy:

In ways both formal and informal, Cassandra has supported and advocated for other people’s children. She’s an active member of her church. She’s been affiliated with Jack and Jill, an organization of black families with children ages 2 to 18. She coordinated a whirlwind college tour for the group’s high school students in November 1999. “I’m always involved with children in some venture related to teaching and learning,” she says. “It gives me great satisfaction.”

In Her Own Words

Cassandra Hyacinthe '90 recently came back to campus to speak about the Art of Teaching program and her career as an educator.

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