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In Focus: Adam Gordon

What brought you to Hofstra University for graduate study?
I’m an artist, world traveler, and an educator. I came to Hofstra after finishing my undergraduate degree in fine arts at SUNY New Paltz. My mother had also attended Hofstra University for her graduate teaching degree and encouraged me to attend as well. I always knew Hofstra University had a good reputation as a college, particularly for teaching. Also, many of my teachers in high school are graduates of Hofstra. Aside from the great professors and other support staff, Hofstra offered something that many other schools couldn’t: a very realistic and supportive environment for working teachers. I wanted to substitute teach during my time as a graduate student and Hofstra offered classes that fit into people’s schedules who work during the day.

Have you always known you wanted to be a teacher?
No, but I realized that I was destined to be one. I come from a family of teachers and it seemed natural for me to pursue it as a career. When I was finishing my undergraduate degree, a teacher of mine who had recently passed away came to mind. She once told me “if you love your job you’ll never work a day in your life.” I feel like every day I get to do what I love and I am grateful for that. Every day I have the opportunity to work with young people and inspire them in the same way my teachers inspired me.

How did the Fine Arts Education program help prepare you for the job search? 
During my student teaching experience, my professors focused heavily on job interviewing techniques and tips, proper attire and etiquette, portfolio and resume building, and ways to search for jobs. Prior to student teaching, students are encouraged to gather experiences, lesson plans, and person and student artwork for a teaching portfolio. I found during my experience interviewing and teaching that the Hofstra network was so valuable and kept us all connected. In fact, I work with a fellow graduate at my current school, Maspeth High School. I was fortunate enough to go on several successful interviews and felt very prepared for the demo lessons and different types of interviews. Everything culminated in a full time position at Maspeth High School in Queens, where I teach 11th and 12th grade studio/art history and run an afterschool program to help students receive an arts endorsement on their diplomas.

What stands out as highlights of your time in Hofstra’s program?
Some of my best experiences were in the classrooms I visited during my observation and student teaching placements. I had the chance to work with students and learn teaching the natural way: by actually teaching children. In our student teaching seminars, we shared laughs, expressed our fears and hopes for the future of their students and careers, and worked as a team to help us improve our practice. Also, much of the support staff, such as the Educational Support Services office, was invaluable in helping navigate the complicated pathways to teaching certification. Perhaps the most memorable moment from my time at Hofstra was on the last day of student teaching at Jericho High School when my students all threw me a surprise going-away party and presented a gigantic goodbye card signed from back to front with students memories of our time together, good wishes, and advice for the future. That day will always remind me of how teachers can make a difference in students’ lives, even if for a short period of time.

What are your goals for the future? 
I’d like to continue my graduate education and eventually get a doctoral degree in education at some point. I love teaching, but I also love being a student and learning more and going further. I would like one day to be in a leadership role in a school or share my experiences and expertise with future teachers on the college level.

What advice do you have for future teachers?
Be open-minded about your students. They will surprise you in many ways and they will work for you and do whatever it takes if they respect you and show them respect. Also, be persistent. Teaching isn’t the easiest field to get your ideal job in right away, but if you persevere, you will reap the benefits of your hard work! Lastly, keep sight on your goals. Teaching isn’t the most glamorous job and it’s a lot of hard work and can be very stressful, but when you can change a student’s life, even just one, it makes it all worth it. You want to teach for a reason and always remember why.

I also think it’s very important for teachers to also be something else besides just a teacher to their students. You can be a coach, a mentor, a fellow sci-fi nerd, a club leader, anything. They want to see you’re a human being, not just someone who hands them a grade and leaves at the end of the school day. During my time at Hofstra, I was always reminded that I am also an artist. I share my own interests and experiences with my students because when I learn, they learn and when I grow as an artist, they do as well.

Adam Gordon

M.S.Ed. in Fine Arts Education '13
Plainview, NY