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Empowering TC Students
to Make a Difference

 

The Neukom Family Scholarship

The Neukom Family Scholarship was established by the Neukom Family Foundation and former TC trustee Gillian Neukom Toledo (Ed.M.’05, ’99, M.A.’97) to support students studying Elementary Inclusive Education who wish to teach in an urban school setting. Since its creation in 2000, the scholarship has supported 31 scholars to realize their aspirations to, as Neukom Scholar Maryangelic Mendez puts it, “grow into the teacher I envision.”

“Education is the most powerful tool that I have been given, so I decided I wanted to make sure that others would have it, too,” Toledo has said. The former elementary school teacher also has noted that “education gives people hope and the tools to be or do whatever they want.”

Mendez, who has had prior experience as an elementary school teacher, is doing her student teaching this fall in a second grade classroom at P.S. 144 near Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Like Mendez, who grew up in Washington Heights, a neighborhood of Spanish-speaking immigrants, and commutes to TC from home to make ends meet, students at the school are primarily from low-income and Latino families.

As an undergraduate, Mendez worked in several enrichment programs and enjoyed establishing trust with children to lay the foundations for learning. “These students deserve nothing less than a teacher who knows everything she needs to know in order to go into a classroom and teach effectively,” she says. Above all, Mendez says she believes in making students feel secure by building a sense of community in the classroom. “I always try to show my students, in every way, that I care for them.”

At the same time, Mendez’s mentors have taught her the importance of being firm, particularly when it comes to prodding students to give their all. “If I can make them feel like, ‘Wow, this is amazing; I want to know more!’ that kind of independent skill will take them further,” she says. “That’s the goal of a teacher.”

The Neukom Family Scholarship is enabling Mendez, who completed TC’s Elementary Inclusive Education master’s degree program to spend an extra semester at the College studying special-needs children and the accommodations they require. “My older brother is autistic,” she says. “He’s an enigma to my family. The added semester is making me a better-rounded teacher and giving me more insight into my brother, which is really nice.”

Jessica Marra is another Neukom Scholar who commuted from her home in Queens (nearly two hours each way) to save money during her first year at TC. She also held down a part-time job as a teaching assistant in a dual-language, Spanish kindergarten at P.S. 87 on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, arriving each day at 8:20 a.m.

Marra used the scholarship to move onto campus this year. “Having more time is precious,” she says, citing not only reduced stress and fatigue but also her increased involvement in the TC community, both socially and academically. She has been serving as co-president of Future Child Advocates of Teachers College. “We strive to spread awareness, offer resources and provide professional development to the TC community and beyond on the effects of childhood bulling and abuse,” she says, “especially for children with disabilities.”

Marra is earning a master’s degree in the programs for Elementary Inclusive Education and Teaching Students with Disabilities. “Teaching for me is more than creating lesson plans that will cover the content children need to know to advance to the next grade,” she says. “I hope to encourage my students to value the power of education and to offer them the tools and attitudes they need to change their lives and their communities.”

Marra, who has suffered from poor health, understands what it takes for kids with disabilities to overcome challenges. “Even in the most adverse situations, children are resilient and have the power to achieve when given the right tools,” she says. “Adversity doesn’t mean you can’t succeed. You may have to work harder, but that’s your strength. It gives you something that people who don’t have to work harder don’t have: you know how to fight; you know how to work harder for something.”

(Published 12/2/2014)

Published Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014

Empowering TC Students
to Make a Difference

The Neukom Family Scholarship

The Neukom Family Scholarship was established by the Neukom Family Foundation and former TC trustee Gillian Neukom Toledo (Ed.M.’05, ’99, M.A.’97) to support students studying Elementary Inclusive Education who wish to teach in an urban school setting. Since its creation in 2000, the scholarship has supported 31 scholars to realize their aspirations to, as Neukom Scholar Maryangelic Mendez puts it, “grow into the teacher I envision.”

“Education is the most powerful tool that I have been given, so I decided I wanted to make sure that others would have it, too,” Toledo has said. The former elementary school teacher also has noted that “education gives people hope and the tools to be or do whatever they want.”

Mendez, who has had prior experience as an elementary school teacher, is doing her student teaching this fall in a second grade classroom at P.S. 144 near Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Like Mendez, who grew up in Washington Heights, a neighborhood of Spanish-speaking immigrants, and commutes to TC from home to make ends meet, students at the school are primarily from low-income and Latino families.

As an undergraduate, Mendez worked in several enrichment programs and enjoyed establishing trust with children to lay the foundations for learning. “These students deserve nothing less than a teacher who knows everything she needs to know in order to go into a classroom and teach effectively,” she says. Above all, Mendez says she believes in making students feel secure by building a sense of community in the classroom. “I always try to show my students, in every way, that I care for them.”

At the same time, Mendez’s mentors have taught her the importance of being firm, particularly when it comes to prodding students to give their all. “If I can make them feel like, ‘Wow, this is amazing; I want to know more!’ that kind of independent skill will take them further,” she says. “That’s the goal of a teacher.”

The Neukom Family Scholarship is enabling Mendez, who completed TC’s Elementary Inclusive Education master’s degree program to spend an extra semester at the College studying special-needs children and the accommodations they require. “My older brother is autistic,” she says. “He’s an enigma to my family. The added semester is making me a better-rounded teacher and giving me more insight into my brother, which is really nice.”

Jessica Marra is another Neukom Scholar who commuted from her home in Queens (nearly two hours each way) to save money during her first year at TC. She also held down a part-time job as a teaching assistant in a dual-language, Spanish kindergarten at P.S. 87 on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, arriving each day at 8:20 a.m.

Marra used the scholarship to move onto campus this year. “Having more time is precious,” she says, citing not only reduced stress and fatigue but also her increased involvement in the TC community, both socially and academically. She has been serving as co-president of Future Child Advocates of Teachers College. “We strive to spread awareness, offer resources and provide professional development to the TC community and beyond on the effects of childhood bulling and abuse,” she says, “especially for children with disabilities.”

Marra is earning a master’s degree in the programs for Elementary Inclusive Education and Teaching Students with Disabilities. “Teaching for me is more than creating lesson plans that will cover the content children need to know to advance to the next grade,” she says. “I hope to encourage my students to value the power of education and to offer them the tools and attitudes they need to change their lives and their communities.”

Marra, who has suffered from poor health, understands what it takes for kids with disabilities to overcome challenges. “Even in the most adverse situations, children are resilient and have the power to achieve when given the right tools,” she says. “Adversity doesn’t mean you can’t succeed. You may have to work harder, but that’s your strength. It gives you something that people who don’t have to work harder don’t have: you know how to fight; you know how to work harder for something.”

(Published 12/2/2014)

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