Dorfman is student and teacher
Garrett 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. When he decided to expand his teaching skills, he turned to a familiar place — Binghamton University — but didn’t have to leave his job and head north.
Dorfman will soon complete his master’s in educational studies through the Graduate School of Education’s program in New Orleans.
The four-semester program helps educators refine their teaching, learning and assessment skills, and covers strategies and approaches that help 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 says.
As an undergraduate, Dorfman wanted to study law but was also drawn to teaching. After graduation he joined Teach for America and taught third grade in Jacksonville, Fla. He applied to KIPP after falling in love with New Orleans during Mardi Gras.
His graduate studies are already proving useful, he says.
“When I learn a new reading strategy on a Saturday, I’m able to use it right away the following Monday,” he says. “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.”
Dorfman’s cohort in the New Orleans program is small. Peer learning means a lot to him, as does the accessibility of the instructors.
“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 says the school has a strong partnership with Teach for America in New Orleans.
“The New Orleans program builds on the strengths of our current teacher-preparation programs,” he says. “It is, however, focused on the particular needs of New Orleans teachers and children, specifically literacy and the diverse needs of students.”