Catching Up with Claire Voss …
Claire Voss teaches 8th grade English in the East Islip School District on Long Island. She is a graduate of Hofstra's M.A. in English program.
Why did you choose to become a teacher?
I chose to become a teacher because I come from a family of teachers. My mother and sister are both teachers and I knew I wanted to work in a field where I could be creative, active, and interact with others. No day is ever the same and I really enjoy working with teenagers. I feel that if I can make even the slightest difference in one student's life, then I have made an impact.
Students seem to be confused as to whether to pursue their M.A. in English or a graduate degree in education. What did you perceive the difference to be and why did you choose to enroll in Hofstra's program? Hofstra's MA in English program?
I did consider both paths as well. However, I ultimately decided to pursue an M.A. in English because of the passion I have for the subject. I wanted to continue my education at a higher level and be exposed to more complicated texts and ideas so that I would be better prepared to instruct my students.
While a graduate degree in education was certainly an option, I feel that much of what I have learned about pedagogy and management was learned in the classroom through trial and error. I wanted to further explore my content area.
What were the aspects of the M.A. program that you most enjoyed or appreciated?I definitely enjoyed the small class sizes at Hofstra. I can be very quiet and shy, and I really found my voice at Hofstra due to the small classes and supportive professors. Each of my classes had less than 10 students in them and this afforded me the opportunity to receive much support from my professors and to develop relationships with them.
What are the concerns you think most teachers have about graduate studies and in what ways did Hofstra M.A. program help address or circumvent those issues?
I think most teachers may feel overwhelmed by the prospect of teaching all day and then going to class at night. It was very difficult to juggle lesson plans, faculty meetings, and grading with the reading required of graduate classes. Hofstra's program offered a variety of classes at different times and on different days. This helped me to arrange my schedule so that I could fulfill my responsibilities at work while pursuing my degree. I was able to take one class per semester during the school year and then two during the summer sessions. The flexible scheduling allowed me to pursue my M.A. at a time most convenient for me.
What advice would you give current students in the M.A. program or potential student who are thinking of entering the program?
I would advise students to manage their time well and take as many summer classes as possible. I was more focused during the summer months and was able to enjoy the readings and classes because I was not as pressured as during the school year. Students should also take advantage of office hours and seek guidance and support from the professors. All are very eager and willing to assist by going over papers or just engaging in a follow-up discussion of the material. I found all of my professors at Hofstra to be dedicated teachers who wanted success for each of their students.