In Focus: Diana Reese '11
How did you decide you wanted to be a teacher?
The biggest influence on me growing up was being the youngest of six children and having tons of nieces and nephews. I loved playing school with the kids when I was the babysitter, and when they weren’t around I made my dolls and teddy bears my students. I’m also a product of public schools, and was heavily influenced by my third grade teacher, Mrs. Robinson. She recognized that I was one of those students that just needed a bit of extra time when learning new things. Mrs. Robinson praised each of my accomplishments, which boosted my confidence, and worked closely with my parents to be sure I was making progress. These experiences early on motivated me to volunteer and work in environments with children, like my church, and helped me on my path towards becoming an educator.
Tell us about your work experiences that confirmed your interest in education.
After I earned a B.A. in Psychology with a concentration in Education, I moved to Delaware to take on the role of Education Director at the Boys and Girls Club of Wilmington. This was a fantastic opportunity for me because I was able to work closely with students in our before- and after-school programs. I created the lesson plans for each day, including an extensive program called “A to Z: Around the World.” Each student created a passport that was stamped while we studied new places, and it was a great way for the children to expand on what they were learning at school. My time at the Boys and Girls Club really fostered my interest in being a teacher and primed me well for further studies.
What brought you to Hofstra for graduate studies?
After moving back to NY and beginning a graduate program at another university, I decided to peruse websites of other schools in the area where I might find a better connection. Hofstra’s website lead me to learn more about the Department of Teaching, Literacy and Leadership and what really struck me was the mission statement. I felt the programs offered for future teachers had much more depth, well beyond navigating the certification process. The reputation of the School of Education, Health and Human Services made me certain I would be a successful graduate because of the great connections I would make in the field.
How would you describe your time as a student teacher?
At California Avenue School, I had placements in kindergarten, first grade, and fourth grade. I really enjoyed my time in each of the classrooms. On my first day in the kindergarten class, the teacher was so welcoming. We team-taught each lesson and worked together each day. We felt more like peers and this experience was great to have early on. I had a similar experience in first grade, where the teacher again took me under her wing and allowed me to co-plan lessons. In fourth grade, I learned about all of the preparation associated with state exams. The teacher gave me so much guidance for my observed lesson, and more than ever, I leaned on what I was learning at Hofstra.
What made you a successful student teacher and job candidate?
Hofstra instilled in me such a broad array of educational theories that prepared me for the classroom. I particularly relied on knowledge of Bloom’s Taxonomy, which describes several levels of understanding. I made sure to allow students time to process new information, elaborate on their answers, and think of many alternatives to answer questions. In addition to knowledge like this, I was privy to resources like the Curriculum Materials Center, which provided great supplies for lesson plans and even laminating services. My classes were all exceedingly helpful, especially Dr. Linda Davey’s seminar class which tied all of my work together at the close of the program. Working on resumes, documenting lesson planes, and creating portfolios were all components built into the curriculum and certainly impressed employers. All of these factors and others definitely helped get me hired at the California Avenue School immediately following graduation!
Did you find mentors while you studied at Hofstra?
I had Pat Geyer as a professor and was also lucky to have her as my advisor. She was wonderful and always available for support. I could give her a call or text her at any time if I needed to. Professor Geyer told me I was a rockstar of a student teacher and exemplified everything she taught me in class, and comments like these really gave me the confidence I needed to succeed. Support I received from Pat post-graduation was also so helpful while I job-searched.
When you think about your graduate program at Hofstra, what comes to mind?
One word: excellent. I would recommend Hofstra to anyone that considers teaching. Faculty here are truly the gurus of the world of education. They can tell you exactly what to expect and prepare you well. I took advantage of office hours often because my professors were so open, personable, and helpful. No other institution can measure up to my experiences here.