Over 100 students interested in teaching filled 105 Ives Hall yesterday evening and listened to New York City Public School Chancellor Harold Levy, J.D. ’79 describe his job while encouraging them to become NYC teachers.
During the lecture entitled “Make a Difference: Teaching the Next Generation,” Levy explained the great need for good teachers. According to Levy, there are 1.1 million students in the NYC school system, but only 50 percent graduate on time and 17 percent drop out.
“The reason education hasn’t worked is because the wrong people are going in,” Levy said. To replace retiring teachers, new, well trained people are needed to help the students succeed, he explained.
“If we don’t get this right, the society will be radically different, and not for the better,” Levy said.
He encouraged students interested in becoming teachers to apply to the highly selective New York City Teaching Fellows program, which he started in 2000.
The two-year fellowship is open to undergraduates in all colleges and provides them with a full paid salary while they enter an accelerated Master’s Degree program that is also fully-paid.
The students are each assigned a mentor and are provided with eight to 12 weeks of training before even setting foot in a classroom. The students are also assisted with finding housing in the NYC area through a real-estate office.
According to Levy, students are assigned to low-performing schools where lots of work needs to be done. However, students have the option of choosing what grade they wish to teach.
During the lecture, Levy also tried to address some concerns students might have about teaching in NYC schools.
“The dangerous places in New York City aren’t in the schools,” Levy said. Out of the thousands of teachers in 1,100 schools, only one teacher was intentionally injured by a student last year, he said.
Levy also suggested that students who wish to know what it is like to be in the fellows program read a series of articles published recently in the New York Times.
Many students were impressed by what Levy had to say.
“I think he’s great. I’m from New York City and I think he was very sincere,” said Sara Rostanski ’04. “When I was little, I wanted to be Chancellor of New York City [schools]. I heard of Levy before — he’s a big name and I wanted to listen to him,” she added.
Gretchen Poulos ’03 also said she was very excited about the lecture.
“It was awesome. He was remarkably articulate and inspirational. I think I found my calling,” she said.
For more information about the fellows program, such as application requirements, students should visit www.nycteachingfellows.org.
To learn about other teaching opportunities, students may contact Diane Miller ’88, the assistant director of Arts and Sciences Career Services, in the Arts and Sciences career office. Students may also visit the career library in Barnes Hall for help in their job search.
Archived article by Luke Hejnar