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In Focus: Amanda Carmelitano '12

What helped you decide to become a teacher?
I knew that I wanted to be a teacher when I was in the 4th grade. I had a teacher that let us have fun in school. Ms. Dressmen had monthly popcorn or bubble gum parties, the books she read were funny, and we all knew she cared. I liked going to school, and I wanted to have a classroom where kids liked coming to school. When I was in high school, I realized I wanted to teach High School history. Mr. Sallese, Mr. McHugh, and Mr. Fiorelli were my inspiration. Mr. Sallese taught AP World History, and for the first time history really made sense to me. He was excited about teaching, and that made me excited about learning. Mr. McHugh taught AP US History, and it was the hardest course of my life; I honestly think it was harder than some of my college courses. I couldn’t stand him at the time, but once I got to college I realized how much he did to prepare me, and I am forever grateful. I try to model my classroom after his, to match his rigor. The other day my students told me they write more in my history class than they do in English; they were complaining, but I took that as a compliment. Mr. Fiorelli taught me SUPA Sociology and Psychology, which gave me a passion for it. I now teach International Baccalaureate level Psychology because of him. He was a huge fan of Socratic seminars. I had never had a teacher that let us be so free in the classroom, and that really inspired me to allow students to develop critical thinking skills that I think are so important to student development.

What brought you to Hofstra University for graduate studies?
I decided to do my graduate work at Hofstra after researching the M.A. program. I was really excited about the courses that are offered there. I was familiar with the reputation of the School of Education and believed that I would get a quality education there.  During my time in the program, my mentors at Hofstra were phenomenal. Dr. Alan Singer was my Thesis Advisor, and was always available when I had a question or needed help. He was extremely helpful throughout my time at Hofstra, as well as after. The faculty at Hofstra truly care about the students, and want them to succeed. They gave me the tools I needed to be a successful teacher. When I walked into my first classroom I felt completely comfortable and ready to be a teacher in charge of my own class. The administrators at my school frequently comment on my ability to create a student-centered classroom. My students debate, discuss, analyze, gallery-walk, or create almost every day. My supervisor even asked if I would collaborate with other teachers, and work with them to help them design more hands-on lessons for students. I internalized this teachings style because of the education that I received at Hofstra.

How did Hofstra prepare you for the job search process post-graduation?
Hofstra’s faculty were extremely helpful in the job-search process. Due to the interaction the School of Education has with the local middle and high schools, my professors were able to contact students about job opportunities. I received many emails letting me know about vacancies in schools in Nassau County and in the city. Many times, I was able to get my resume and application in before the job had even been officially posted. Dr. Singer was also helpful with resume advice and interview tips. His door was always open if I needed advice about a demo-lesson, or had a question regarding the interview process.

What kind of classroom are you leading now?
Now I live in Virginia Beach, VA and I teach at King’s Fork High School in the International Baccalaureate Program here. I teach IB Psychology, SL and HL, and I teach Pre-IB World History One. I love every minute of all of these classes. After substitute teaching for two years in NY, I found that my Master’s degree served me so much better down in VA because it is not a requirement of teachers.  At King’s Fork, I try to have a pretty hands-on classroom. Since I am only a second year teacher, and have a new prep this year, I am still learning the curriculum, and working on creating more of an activity-based classroom. It is a work in progress, but that is where I am headed. I love using gallery-walks to demonstrate innovations of different empires, having the kids create time-lines, or comic books to chronicle events like the Punic Wars, or creating “interviews” of famous Greeks. I have an “interactive” time-line running the boarder of my classroom. As we cover major events in history, students create pieces, which I clothes-pin to the time line. This helps students visualize when events occurred, and what context they occurred in. Next year I hope to add a giant map to my back wall, and create pieces to stick on that will show where in the world events occurred.

What are your long-term goals?
As a second year teacher, I am still learning so much about my own teaching philosophy, and where I want to go with it. I never thought I would like teaching Psychology; however it has quickly become one of my favorite courses. I thought I wanted to teach American history, however, after teaching World I for half the year, I already know that it is where I would like to stay. I may consider a position as a principal in the next 10 years, I may consider moving up in the administrator world, or I may stay in the classroom and work with students for the rest of my career, I haven’t decided just yet. However, whichever path I end up on, I know that Hofstra has given me such a great foundation to start from.

Amanda Carmelitano

M.A. in Social Studies Education Mount Sinai, NY