by Cecil Harris“There needs to be a conversation in the classroom. If you just lecture to students, you can never be sure if they’re getting it.”—Carla Williams-Deazle ’01, M.A. ’02
In 1997, Carla Williams began classes as a freshman at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. One month later, she withdrew. The school simply wasn’t the right fit. She transferred to Adelphi University, enrolled in the General Studies Learning Community and, on her first day of class, made a strong impression.
“I was teaching a Western Civilization class and Carla arrived about 15 minutes late,” recalled Daniel Rosenberg, Ph.D., a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences and director of the General Studies Learning Community. “I asked the class a question about Egypt and, before she could take her seat, she answered the question correctly.”
So impressed was Dr. Rosenberg that he nicknamed her “Professor.”
“I saw an intuitively bright student, a student interested in learning,” he said.
Today, Carla Williams-Deazle ’01, M.A. ’12, is an alumna of the General Studies Learning Community, a professor in the program and its assistant director. She is also pursuing a doctorate in higher education administration at Touro College.
“I practice the same student-centered approach to teaching that I learned in the General Studies Learning Community,” said Williams-Deazle, a Brooklyn, New York, native who grew up on Long Island. “My classes are heavily participatory. I adhere to the philosophy of Paulo Friere [an early-20th century Brazilian teacher and philosopher]: There needs to be a conversation in the classroom. If you just lecture to students, you can never be sure if they’re getting it.”
The General Studies Learning Community combines liberal arts courses with individual counseling and tutoring to better prepare freshmen for success in college. Students who complete the program are accepted as matriculating sophomores into Adelphi’s other undergraduate programs.
While a student, Williams-Deazle met Diana Feige, Ed.D., a clinical associate professor in the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education, who encouraged her to apply for the Scholar Teacher Education Program (S.T.E.P.). In S.T.E.P., students earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years and work as student teachers. Williams-Deazle received a B.A. in English and an M.A. in education.
Williams-Deazle—the daughter of the late C.I. Williams, an alto saxophonist who performed with such artists as Count Basie and Mick Jagger—tutors students and teaches three courses: Expository Writing, World of Ideas and Critical Reading and Writing. She has also presented research papers at academic conferences. In Madrid, Spain, she spoke on the need for more ethnic and gender diversity in literature courses.
“I’ve also done research on minority male suspension rates in high school and the link between that and the prison rate—it’s called the school-to-prison pipeline,” she said. “I’m currently doing research on how students from urban areas assimilate onto suburban college campuses.”
Many Adelphi students have sought her counsel on that very issue, as well as others. A better adviser would be hard to find.