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Where Teachers Are Made


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Profesor Hal Abeles, Chair of the Department of Arts and Humanities, with student Hannah Kim.

On may not associate the phrase "Arts and Humanities" with the practical challenges of training for the real world-but at TC, says A&H chair Hal Abeles, Professor of Music Education, that's precisely what it's all about.

"In addition to doing all the traditional things you might expect of an arts and humanities department, we have a substantial teacher education component, particularly in secondary education," says Abeles. Indeed, five of the department's nine programs-art, music, social studies, English and ESL, which together account for more than half of its 1,100 students-educate teachers.

The department also works directly with school systems in New York City and around the world. One of those is the Heritage School-a small public high school in East Harlem that gives parity to the arts in its curriculum. Heritage was founded by Judith Burton, who heads TC's art program, and many TC graduates and students currently teach at the school or provide it with curriculum guidance. Meanwhile, Professors Margaret Crocco and Steve Thornton of TC's social studies program are working with the backing of a large grant to collaborate with city teachers on developing curriculum. Abeles himself works with orchestra education programs in several cities to evaluate their outreach to inner-city children. Music Education Associate Professor Lenore Pogonowski directs the Creative Arts Laboratory, which works closely with city school teachers. And Professor Ruth Vinz, Enid and Lester Morse Professor of Arts and Humanities, works on in-service teacher development in New York City's Region 10.

Outside the city, the department is the locus of TC's pioneering work in the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program, which has a large number of foreign students who are here to apply TC methods in their home countries. A satellite TESOL program in Tokyo collaborates with faculty members here to offer a degree, while the music program partners with a university in Taipei-the students work with TC faculty onsite in Taipei for half their program, then finish in New York.

For a department with such a large number of pre-service students, job placement in a sometimes hostile environment is an important issue. "Our students are highly sought after," Abeles says. "They get recruited by districts across the country." Nevertheless, the department is constantly looking for new ways to enhance its students' prospects. For example, to prepare for the upcoming NCATE accreditation process, Social Studies is one of several TC programs creating electronic portfolios that contain videos of students teaching. Students gain control of the tapes upon graduating and can send them out with job applications as a distinctive electronic resume.

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