2011 TC Pressroom
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Picking Up The Pace

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Albert Cousins

Albert Cousins

If, as is sometimes said, Teachers College students march to a different beat, then this year's President of the Student Senate, Albert Cousins, just may be their drummer. 

 An Ed.D. student in the Curriculum and Teaching department, Cousins spent six years after high school touring the world as part of a drum line, including a performance at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Cousins feels that while touring with this group, he relied on many of the same skills he used while teaching social studies outside Buffalo, New York

 To be a good teacher, he said, "you have to always be ready for change, to recognize the right entry point for a particular idea." The drum line experience helped teach him that, he said, because it brought people together from all over the world and, given the intense schedules, "you had to learn to work together just to survive the day." 

 Cousins loved his experience as a teacher, and now, he says, "I want to teach teachers - 'it's a natural outgrowth. I teach in all areas of my life, in different ways, but this will give me the chance to affect more people. Every teacher I work with will affect that many more students down the line." 

 He traces his interest in student government to his first day at TC and a speech by orientation speaker and TC alumna Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Westheimer compared the new student experience to a turtle and its shell, saying, "if you don't stick your neck out, you can't go anywhere."

Cousins has been moving at a decidedly un-turtle-like pace in his time as President, holding a number of meetings and informational sessions with students during the summer to drum up interest in student government. That work seemed to pay off, as this year 41 people applied for Student Senate, significantly more than in previous years.

"This shows that with this class there's a general feeling that students can do something at TC," he says. "It gives us a larger pool of active students who want to be involved in change." And certain parts of TC are itching for change, he says, such as getting a publicly available course evaluation system and changing the timing of the registration system - as TC students don't typically get their schedule until the day before classes start. 

 "It's been great so far," he said. "The new senators are really energized."

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