GSE offers master's program in New Orleans
By Steve SeepersaudGarrett Dorfman '08, a third-grade teacher at Kipp McDonogh 15 School for the Creative Arts in New Orleans, has spent most of his young career teaching math and science. To become a more effective teacher in other subjects, he decided to pursue a master's degree.
He turned to a familiar place — Binghamton University — but didn't have to leave his job and head north to continue his education. Dorfman will soon complete a master's degree in educational studies through the Graduate School of Education's program based in New Orleans.
The four-semester program helps educators refine their teaching, learning and assessment skills, and covers strategies and approaches that improve learning outcomes for all students.
"When I saw that Binghamton was offering this program, I took it as a sign that this is the program I should choose," he said.
As an undergraduate, Dorfman set his sights on law school, but because he was also interested in teaching, he applied to Teach for America — and was accepted — just before the end of his senior year. He was assigned to teach third grade at a charter school in Jacksonville, Fla., then applied to Kipp after falling in love with New Orleans during a Mardi Gras visit.
He's already seeing the payoff from his graduate work, he said.
"When I learn a new reading strategy on a Saturday, I'm able to use it right away the following Monday, he said. "I understand what the strategies are as opposed to just reading theories. I can see where, in just four months, the students have already made a year's worth of progress."
Because the graduate program is small — in fact, his literacy track has only four students, one of whom also teaches at Kipp — the students learn from each other. Peer learning means a great deal to him, he said, and later in his career he wants to be a math or literacy coach and share his expertise with other teachers. Dorfman said that the accessibility of the instructors is another strong point of the program.
"The professors fly down two to three times a semester, so you get the face time in person as well as through e-mail and Google chat. They get to know us and tailor the experience to what we need instead of giving us a generic course."
Dean S.G. Grant said the school has a strong partnership with Teach for America in New Orleans, and this has helped to feed students into the master's program.
"The New Orleans program builds on the strengths of our current teacher-preparation programs," Grant said. "It is, however, focused on the particular needs of New Orleans teachers and children, specifically literacy and the diverse needs of students."
For more information and to apply for the program, visit the Graduate School of Education's website. If you have questions, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 607-777-2727. The program is co-sponsored by the Graduate School of Education and the Alumni Association.