Patricia Tempesta

Retired Assistant Professor, Department of Education

   I am fascinated by both the art and the science of good teaching. I began my teaching career many years ago in a public high school on Long Island where I taught English language arts and drama. I was fortunate to work with some of the best teachers I have ever known while I was in my early years of teaching and those encounters and experiences helped to fuel my interest in teacher education. I believe that good teachers have a gift for connecting with students. As educators, we can take that gift and help to shape it and mold it, but we can't give it to someone who does not have it.

   In graduate school, I became very interested in how marginalized students were being treated in schools and this led to some real soul searching about what I wanted to devote my time to as an educator. The right approach for me seemed to be to try and effect change in the system by working with beginning teachers around issues of success for all children - regardless of race or culture or socio-economic status. My first formal attempt at doing this came in the form of a new course that I proposed here on campus called Elements of Tutoring where students had the opportunity to spend time in area public schools working primarily with students who were struggling academically and often socially as well.

   Many years have passed since that first course, but the work is still being done and it is as important as ever. My latest work has been around expanding the collaborations we have with public schools in New York City's Harlem community. By working in these rich urban, multicultural environments, our students have a tremendous opportunity to broaden and deepen their understanding of what it means to teach all children. This work also allows us to offer urban students a chance to experience what college is all about. It is intellectually engaging, socially and culturally challenging, exhausting and rewarding work - and it is so important.