Fatuma Hydara, BA `13, Adolescent Education with a concentration in English

School of Education student Fatuma Hydara, BA ’13, has parlayed a love of words, books, and reading into a bright future inspiring the same love among young people.

Hydara, an Adolescent Education major with a concentration in English and an English double major, admits a lifelong love of books. The Bronx resident recalls a childhood spent at the public library and spending her allowance and summer job earnings on books. “I always knew that books, reading, and literature had to be a major aspect of my future career,” she says. She turned to teaching after considering “possibilities, such as a librarian or in publishing, but knew that a desk job wasn’t for me. I want to truly help people.”

Hydara is also a strong and gifted writer— She is managing editor of the University’s Vox Arts and Literary Magazine and a writing consultant at the Writing Center. It is an artful skill that will undoubtedly be useful as she prepares to become a classroom teacher in this era of Common Core education, which emphasizes written communication skills and critical thinking across the curriculum.

“Writing is important to me because it gives me things to read, explore, and learn from,” Hydara says.  “Authors write from their lives and experiences and I will encourage my students to write simply because I want them to believe that their stories, too, are worth being read by others. It will also allow me to get a glimpse of their genius and their spirit, giving me fascinating material to read.”

“At some point I dreamed of being an author because I wanted to make others feel the same way I did when I read a really great book,” she says, “but at this stage in my life I’m perfectly content to allow others to produce amazing work for me to curl up in bed with and read.” 

Finding the right place to prepare for her future was as simple as visiting the University’s Pleasantville campus. “I researched schools with strong programs, of which Pace is one,” she says. “However, it wasn’t until I visited the beautiful Pleasantville campus that I realized, ‘Ah, this is the place for me to be.’”

Looking at a list of Hydara’s accomplishments and activities, you wonder if she’s had time to enjoy the campus or a good book at all during her Pace career. In addition to the Vox and Writing Center commitments, she is a dedicated student in the Pforzheimer Honor's College, a member of several honors societies (Pi Lambda Sigma, Golden Key International Honor Society and Sigma Tau Delta) and an active member of the School of Education’s Teacher Opportunity Corp, a program that supports the development of classroom educators and leaders who enable and empower students to learn and achieve, regardless of perceived limitations of abilities or environment.

During her time with the School of Education, Hydara has developed her own perspective on teaching and education. She has been most surprised by the fact that in teaching, “there’s no mold, no set rules, no one path. So, great teachers are the ones who create their own—molds, rules, and paths with the students always at the very center,” she reflects. Fieldwork experiences, both in Westchester and New York City, have been transformative. “[Those placements] cemented my resolve to be a caring and insightful teacher. Every experience has been valuable either by showing me a way to do something that works, or showing me something that doesn’t and that I must avoid. However, it’s the students that make it especially worthwhile,” she says.

She hesitates to define her teaching philosophy, but  has developed a strong sense of who she is and where she is coming from in the classroom. “I’ve learned over the past few years that there are particular aspects of teaching that I feel strongly about that will strongly influence my teaching style, such as my love for literature and writing, getting to know my students as people, issues with standardized testing and assessment, dreams (both students’ and my own), social justice, and engaged learning,” she says.

As she graduates, Hydara is very conscious of the many forces at play in public education and the delicate role of the classroom teacher. “Education doesn’t comprise of just you and your students. There’s the administration, the state, parents, the community, teacher’s union etc. and each has its own agenda and goals for the children in your classroom,” she says. “It’s up to you to fight against opposing forces and with allies to make sure that students always get what they need—a solid education.”

Hydara will complete her student teaching in Fall 2013, and aspires to teach English at the middle school level. In five years, she says, “I hope to hear about my former eighth graders graduating from high school and aiming for their dreams.”