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School of Education

In Focus: Amanda Williams

Tell us about your background and how you knew you wanted to be a teacher.
Becoming a secondary education teacher has been a goal of mine ever since elementary school. I wasn’t positive as to which content I wanted to teach until high school. One of my Social Studies teachers taught a class specifically on the Vietnam War. The teacher was extremely animated and passionate about the class. He covered his classroom in time-specific materials, wore presidential masks during speeches and important events (Eisenhower, Kennedy, LBJ, and Nixon), our pop-quizzes were called “ambushes,” etc. That was the first time that I realized I wanted to become a history teacher in hopes that I could be that passionate about a topic in history as he was!

What brought you to Hofstra University for graduate studies?
While contemplating where to get my master’s degree, I had a few specific things that I kept in mind. When deciding between two schools, I chose Hofstra University because it was close to home and was a well-known institution for its education program. The Teaching, Literacy, and Leadership Department was extremely knowledgeable and accommodating during the application process and while I was figuring out which certification best fit my needs. I received my initial teaching certification in Social Studies (7-12) and wanted to find a program that would allow me to learn literacy skills that could be applied to my history classroom. Hofstra was one of the select schools that didn’t focus on creating “reading teachers,” but rather focus on creating specialists in literacy.

How would you describe your field placements/student teaching experience?
I thoroughly enjoyed my field placements as part of my observations experience for the Literacy program. I observed in a variety of different school districts across Long Island (including my hometown) which allowed me to experience various teaching styles, grade levels, content area classrooms, special education classrooms all accompanied by varied technology and resources. Reading about lesson plans and interactive activities is interesting but being able to observe them firsthand is a rewarding experience.  I am looking forward to begin my practicum internship with the Saltzman Center for this upcoming summer to implement the theories and strategies I have learned thus far.

How has Hofstra prepared you for the job search process post-graduation?
My professors have given me the necessary tools to be able to confidently teach literacy in a variety of different areas to a diverse student population. In my most recent teaching interviews, the interviewer asked questions regarding the connection between the Common Core Standards and my teaching activities inside my history classroom. I was able to provide suggestions for texts that I would use and describe the theories that I have learned about. I felt confident and knowledgeable in the subject matter as a result of my education at Hofstra. I remember saying, “I hope that I can show my students that reading doesn’t only happen in school. I want my kids to be able to find the books that interest them and to love reading again.” All too often, our students are forced to read the same books collectively and are not steered towards texts that interest them.

What are your long-term goals?  Are you going to seek additional certifications or an advanced degree?
I’m looking forward to having my own history classroom after graduation.  Being equipped with a dual certification in both Social Studies Education and Literacy will hopefully lead me down the right path. I do believe that I will never stop going to school to further my knowledge about the education system. Maybe in a few years, I will return but for right now I am satisfied with my two certificates. Hofstra will definitely be receiving my application again down the road for a new program or possibly a Doctorate. We’ll see what happens!

Amanda Williams

M.S.Ed. in Literacy Studies ‘13
West Islip, New York