This month marks the unprecedented beginning of teaching careers for many new educators who graduated from college just a few months ago.
“I am confident that my school will do what is best for us (teachers), but this is an incredibly overwhelming year to begin my teaching career,” said Samantha Sulzer, a recent SJC Long Island graduate who started teaching this week at College Point Collaborative in Queens amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sulzer will teach English and social studies to 7th and 8th graders at the school. She said she’s prepared for the challenges her first year on the job will bring.
“I am nervous, but so beyond excited,” said Sulzer, who earned a B.A. in History Adolescence Education in 2019 and expects to receive her M.A. in Childhood or Adolescence Special Education from St. Joseph’s this January. “I know that there will be a huge learning curve and I’m willing to put in the work.”
Preparing to Teach Remotely
Marisa Nikas, an SJC Brooklyn 2020 graduate with a B.A. in Child Study, is also kicking off her first year of teaching. And like Sulzer, she’s teaching in a New York City school.
“When planning lessons that are taught remotely, I learned to be more creative to keep all of my students engaged,” said Nikas, who is teaching students from kindergarten through second grade in a bridged class at District 75 Schools in the P4K building.
“Going into this school year, I am the in-person teacher, but I have to plan collaboratively with the remote teacher for my class, so all students are getting exposed to the same content area,” Nikas added. “There is a lot of unknowns, but P4K is working as a community for all of the changes that are occurring for this school year.”
Shannon David, who graduated from SJC Brooklyn in May with a degree in child study and a concentration in psychology, knows her new colleagues at SJC Brooklyn’s Dillon Child Study Center are there to help her.
“As we move forward into this new school year with remote learning, I know that it may be challenging,” said David, who began working with toddlers in the Dillon Center Monday. “I also know that we are a team, and we will be there to support each other through it all, to ensure that every student is engaged, motivated and that their needs are met.”
Ready to Succeed
Like Sulzer and Nikas, David expects starting her teaching career amid the pandemic to have its own set of difficulties — but she’s up for the challenge, thanks to the education she earned at St. Joseph’s College.
“St. Joe’s has played a vital role in my teaching career,” she said. “Through student teaching, and with the help from all of my professors, I was provided with the knowledge, skills and the experience that is required of me to be the most inspiring and innovative teacher I can be.”
Sulzer credits her St. Joseph’s professors with helping her feel more prepared in the face of COVID-19.
“I had some absolutely incredible professors who not only presented a rigorous curriculum, but who challenged me to push beyond what I thought I was capable of,” she said. “They know their students well and consistently ensure that we are given the best tools and skills to become the best teachers we can possibly be.”