by Leslie Hunter-Gadsden, M.A. ’01
After all the studying, observations, practicums, student teaching and certification, the final step for any student in Adelphi’s Ruth S. Ammon School of Education is to become employed as a teacher. While this may seem obvious, it can also be challenging.
For Brenda Balbontin, M.A. ’15, with dual certification in early childhood and special education, having the opportunity to interview with out-of-area school districts meant combining her travel bug with her desire to go someplace where she could contribute the most.
Reflecting on her experiences as a graduate student, Balbontin explained that she felt her diverse background might be well accepted and much needed in a place that doesn’t traditionally carry the rich culture New York City is famous for. “I thought, with my background in special education, as well as being bilingual in Spanish—my family is from South America—I could make a better contribution where they didn’t have as many resources and [as much] diversity as we have in New York.”
After attending prescheduled interviews with out-of-area school districts in March 2016—organized by Adelphi and Hofstra University—Balbontin secured an offer from the Spring Branch Independent School District in Houston, Texas, to teach early childhood special education.
Getting students to consider and research employment options is a big thrust at Adelphi, according to Elaine Boylan, senior associate director of the Center for Career Development. “This year, in March, we had Los Angeles area school districts conducting interviews on Adelphi’s Garden City campus, and representatives from school districts in other states, including Broward County, Florida, Waterbury, Connecticut and Spring Branch, Texas, conducted interviews with Adelphi candidates on the Hofstra campus as a collaborative effort between our campus and theirs,” she said.
“One of my greatest goals is to interest students in doing the research, learning how to use our site to apply and understanding the mechanics of the program of recruiting,” Boylan said.
Weighing options was a priority for Balbontin. “When I went to the out-of-state [job] fair, I did research into some of the out-of-state school districts. I was a bit skeptical, but then I got excited when I heard what they offered,” said Balbontin. “[I was] impressed by the support that the Houston district gives to new teachers,” she said, describing a mentoring program she’ll be involved with. She was also keen to note the significant decrease in the cost of living.
“Be open to anything.”
Jennifer Miranda, who is completing an M.A. in TESOL at Adelphi’s Manhattan campus, has also been looking beyond New York’s state lines. She applied for a position with the Los Angeles Unified School District after her sister, who recently relocated to LA, encouraged her to apply.
“I’ve started to think about teaching English in another country someday,” she said, taking her own advice to fellow students that they should try to be open to anything, but that preparation for any opportunity is key. “After emailing Bonnie Ratner, talent acquisition specialist with the Los Angeles Unified School District, I did a lot of research to prepare for the interview on the Garden City campus.”
Because of her qualifications as a classroom and ESL teacher, Miranda secured an offer in elementary education from the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The Right Moves
Moving to different locales has been the norm for Kollijanni Dinh ’15, also known as Kali, throughout her life. “I was born in Detroit, Michigan. Then my family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. I began college at Kent State University…and after three years I switched my major from fashion design to art education. After that I transferred to Adelphi to complete [a] B.F.A. in Art Education. I’ve always focused on art in different ways.”
Cindy Maguire, Ph.D., associate professor of art and art history, Dinh’s adviser, helped her decide to participate in the recruiting interviews with the Los Angeles Unified School District. “She actually taught in California,” Dinh said. “It’s ironic. I wanted to move to California when I was 18 and attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Marketing, but it wasn’t financially possible then.” The tables have turned. After completing the interview process, Dinh received an offer for a position in K-12 art education.
While there is more paperwork to file in conjunction with each student’s respective offer, it’s clear that they’ve all been motivated by the opportunities.
Dinh is excited about the prospect of teaching in an elementary, middle or high school in Los Angeles. “If you’re going into education, I think moving broadens you. …When you’re stuck in one place, your mind doesn’t get a chance to grow,” said Dinh.