Lessons Taught and Learned

School of Education student Amanda Akdemir, BA/MSEd ’13, has found new and exciting ways to make a real difference in the lives of others–both at home and overseas. >>Read More

For Amanda Akdemir, her personal mission has always been clear: make a difference in the lives of others. Throughout her time at the Pace University School of Education, she has found new and exciting ways to make a real difference in the lives of others.

Akdemir transferred to Pace after completing an associate’s degree in Liberal Arts from Rockland Community College. After taking a few education courses there, she was hooked. “I applied to Pace University because I was advised that the School of Education was fabulous and had a great relationship with RCC and that my credits would transfer over very smoothly,” she says. “I can say with great confidence that I am happy I made the decision to come to Pace.”

Akdemir is a candidate in our five-year combined degree program, set to graduate in May 2013 with a BA in Childhood education and an MS in Educational Technology. She is the Vice President of Pi Lambda Theta, an education honor society and professional organization.

One of the key highlights, she says, is getting into local schools so early in the program. “It has allowed for me not only to create relationships amongst districts and their communities, but also to gain such a vast range of insights that I have been able to build upon through my courses and experience,” Akdemir says.

Akdemir is currently a student intern and substitute teacher in a unique school environment, the Mount Pleasant Blythedale School District, a K-12 school for children with special medical needs at Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla New York. “It has given me a good handle on several different situations from both the elementary and secondary standpoints,” she says.

Akdemir has previously student-taught classes in the second and fourth grade in another Westchester district. “I love being in the classroom and it is absolutely true that this is where most of your learning takes place,” she says.

As part of her Educational Technology degree program, she has engaged in a wide variety of projects, including website development, applying for technology grants, and implementing the broad use of an interactive multimedia iPad app for Blythedale’s special needs students, along with professional development for faculty. Her experience is one that has definitely opened her eyes to the challenges in education—meeting the needs of all students.

“Especially in my current environment, simultaneously adapting to the needs of such diverse learners is definitely not an easy task,” she says. But, she continues, “I think that the greatest reward comes when those needs are met. The satisfaction that comes along [with that] is an unmatched feeling that makes every effort worthwhile.”

Akdemir has also had the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children, internationally. She was one of six students who traveled to Guatemala for a week in February 2013 to present at the 9th International Literacy Conference in Guatemala City. In addition to scholarly pursuits, the students also visited three local schools to interact with teachers and students, and experienced day-to-day life in Central America. “It was an overall wonderful experience that I will cherish always,” she says. The trip, she says, put a lot of things in perspective.

“There is so much that we take for granted here,” she says. “We are provided with more than we can imagine to make a difference in the lives of children, and we should be making use of every tool and opportunity we are given to the best of our ability.”

Read more SOE success stories on their website at www.pace.edu/soe

The Professor Is In: Q&A with Brian Evans

School of Education Professor Brian Evans, EdD, has taken a quick rest on his quest to travel the world just long enough to tell us what he loves about teaching, nerds in academia, and Antarctica! >>Read More

From traveling to Uganda to help teachers develop their mathematical problem solving abilities to hiking the Himalayas, it’s a wonder Brian R. Evans, EdD, has time for anything else. But when he isn’t traveling the world, Evans serves as the department chair and associate professor of Mathematics Education in the School of Education. He is also the co-chairperson for the Institutional Review Board and  director of Pace’s Summer Scholars Institute, which brings ambitious high school juniors and seniors to Pace for an early college experience.

At the School of Education, his primary focus is on pedagogical and content courses in mathematics for both pre-service and in-service teachers at the adolescent and childhood levels. He recently became the first Faculty Resident at Pace and serves as managing editor for the Journal of the National Association for Alternative Certification.

What was your favorite class as a student? Least favorite?
My favorite class was mathematics history. I really enjoyed this class and I now teach a mathematics history class at Pace. I’m also currently working on a mathematics history book. Mathematics and history are two of my favorite subjects, so the combination of the two is quite attractive to me.

I really didn’t take a course in college that I didn’t like. However, my least favorite class, if I had to choose one, was probably [computer] programming. I like computer science, but I often found myself very frustrated when the programs I wrote didn’t run correctly and I couldn’t figure out the problem. I liked the class, but found that aspect frustrating.

What one thing or person made you passionate about your current career?
If I focus on the teaching perspective of my career, it was my high school geometry teacher and a mathematics college professor who inspired me to teach. Both had the same approach of injecting humor into the classroom and had such an easy going demeanor that made learning very pleasurable. If I focus on research, there was an education professor with whom I still collaborate on research projects who really inspired my writing.

What quality do you most value in your students?
My classes are most enjoyable for me when my students are independent thinkers who engage in critical thinking and inquiry. Probably the most important quality of a college education is the enhanced ability to think critically.

What’s your advice to students to make the most out of their time in college?
My advice is for students to take advantage of opportunities they would later regret not taking when the opportunity is gone. For example, while I’ve traveled quite extensively on my own, I never participated in a study abroad program and now wish I had. I know others who took part in study aboard programs and felt it was one of the most rewarding experiences in their lives.

If you had to do it all over again and took another path, what profession would you like to attempt? What profession would you not like to do?
If I were to go back, I would still choose the position I’m in now. However, if I chose something different, medical school would have been a rewarding path to take. I would not like to have gone into any career in which helping people wasn’t a major focus, like it is with education and medicine.

What is your favorite book/TV show?
It’s difficult to choose only one book, but generally I like reading non-fiction about politics, philosophy, and travel. I don’t watch a terrible amount of television, and I generally watch the news or a documentary. However, currently I might say Big Bang Theory. It’s a show about nerds in academia. What’s not to like?

What would you do if you had an extra hour every day?
Only one hour? That’s difficult because I’d like many more hours. I wish I had more time to volunteer. I don’t volunteer nearly as often as I did before I became so busy. I do quite a lot of reading for my career, but not much reading for pleasure anymore. Having some time to read for pleasure would be welcome, hence my need for more than one hour.

What is your favorite journey/experience?
I love to travel everywhere. I’ve been to all seven continents and all 50 U.S. states. Probably one of my favorite trips was to Antarctica, given how remote and beautiful the continent was.

What is your favorite saying/words to live by?
I [find] this question difficult because there has been so much said throughout history that would fit this question. If I had to choose just one quote, it would be, “Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”–Aristotle

If you could have any five people, living or dead, imagined or real, as guests at a dinner party, who would you choose? If living or dead is not an issue, nor is language and period context, there are so many from which to choose. One of the things I love about reading books is that one can read the words of thinkers who are long gone to the world, but whose ideas persist. It’s the next best thing to actually sitting down to dinner and having a conversation with them. To make the task easier for me I’ll choose living people in which it wouldn’t be impossible to have at a dinner party, albeit unlikely. I would choose Stephen Hawking, Noam Chomsky, Barack Obama, Aung San Suu Kyi, Andrew Wiles, and Richard Dawkins. That’s six, but there’s always room for one more at a dinner party.

Written by Pace student Sarah Aires ’14

Get Educated

What factors create racial disparities in academic performance? Why haven’t we addressed them? On October 23 in PLV, Senior Harvard Lecturer Ronald F. Ferguson, PhD, talks about closing the achievement gap.

The School of Education welcomes one of the nation’s foremost experts on education and economic development, Senior Harvard Lecturer Ronald F. Ferguson, PhD, as he discusses a growing national movement to improve educational outcomes for students from all racial, ethnic, and social backgrounds as part of the Distinguished Educators Lecture on Tuesday, October 23, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Gottesman Room on the PLV Campus.

Drawing on his recent book, Toward Excellence with Equity: An Emerging Vision for Closing the Achievement Gap, Ferguson sets forth a compelling vision for change and “an urgent call to action” to all those concerned about the future of our children and our country.

The event is free and open to the public. Register at www.pace.edu/FergusonLecture .

Click here for more information.

Evaluating the Teacher

Teacher Accountability: It’s on the front page of media outlets around the country and a top political agenda for numerous candidates in this election year. Join Charlotte Danielson, an internationally recognized expert in the area of teacher effectiveness, for a riveting discussion on teacher evaluation and accountability. >>Read More

Pace’s School of Education presents the Distinguished Educator’s Lecture: Framing Teacher Effectiveness/Supporting Student Success featuring Charlotte Danielson, whose Framework for Teaching is becoming a foundation for the evaluation of teachers in many school districts in New York, on Tuesday, April 3, from 6:00 p.m.-8:00p.m. at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts on the NYC Campus.

Questions and answer session to follow. The event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP at www.pace.edu/DanielsonLecture or (914) 773-3884.

For more information, visit www.pace.edu/soe.


Oh, the Places You Should Go

If you have brains in your head and you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself in the direction we choose. So grab your wallets, tie your shoes, and comb your hair…and on March 3 head to White Plains for the Dr. Seuss Bookfair.

Horton Hears a Who huge book fair is coming up on March 3 to celebrate its maker, Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Join Pace’s Pi Lambda Theta in raising money for the Center for Literacy Enrichment at the Barnes and Noble Bookfair!

Stop by the Barnes and Noble City Center in White Plains from 1:00 p.m. to  5:00 p.m. for a Dr. Seuss birthday extravaganza. There will be storytime and face-painting and volunteers are needed. E-mail Pace student Lauren Zucconi at Lauren.Zucconi@gmail.com if you’re interested in helping out. The Pace Glee Club will be performing from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and the Cat in the Hat will be there to pose for some Facebook profile pics!

Most importantly, anyone who mentions the book fair on March 3 at checkout, will have some of their proceeds go towards The Center for Literacy Enrichment, which helps students from all over Westchester County with reading, writing, and comprehension. Can’t attend the bookfair? Visit BN.COM/bookfairs to support the Center online from March 3 until March 8 by entering Bookfair ID 10688695 at checkout.

A division of Pace’s School of Education, The Center for Literacy Enrichment on the White Plains Campus was founded by SOE professor Sister M. St. John Delany and is celebrating its 40th birthday this year. For 40 years, the Center has been working to enhance reading, comprehension, and writing skills, while building self-confidence and developing individual learning techniques. The Center runs daily tutoring sessions and workshops as well as summer camps during the month of July, with the help of Pace students and alumni.  For more information, visit their website or like them on Facebook.

Pace’s Pi Lambda Theta, an honor society and professional association for educators, recognizes persons of superior scholastic achievement and high potential for professional leadership. Juniors, seniors, and graduate students obtaining a degree in the education field and have a GPA of 3.7 of higher can be accepted.