Old Westbury Student Presentations at NCTE 2014 Annual Convention

Old Westbury Student Presentations at NCTE 2014 Annual Convention, Written by Dr. Nicole Sieben

“The best-kept secret in American education is the daily genius of the teachers in our classrooms.”

—Ernest Morrell, Presidential Address, NCTE Annual Convention 2014

On Friday, November 21, 2014 SUNY College at Old Westbury graduate students in the Masters in Teaching English program traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the 104th  National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention, “Story as the Landscape of Knowing,” at which over 7,000 K-16 English teachers met to “examine the power of story as the landscape within which we map the significance of experience and build towers of knowledge.” As NCTE has said, “Stories saturate our lives, woven so tightly into the fabric of the everyday that it’s easy to overlook their value as a way of knowing the world. They are the glue that creates community and binds us together around common purposes and values.” At SUNY Old Westbury, our students also create community through story telling by analyzing great works of literature, writing critical reflection and research papers, and creating innovative curricula. At the 2014 NCTE Annual Convention, three of our SUNY College at Old Westbury students had the opportunity to share their stories with the national professional community of English teachers.

As NCTE president and Columbia University professor, Dr. Ernest Morrell, shared in his presidential keynote address at the annual convention, NCTE is the oldest, most historic literacy organization in this country.  This November, our graduate students became a part of NCTE’s history and undoubtedly, its future. After working hard to prepare their presentations under the guidance of their English education professor, Dr. Nicole Sieben, the students arrived at the conference eager to share their work and network with other graduate students, English teachers, and scholars in the field. On Saturday, November 22, 2014, SUNY College at Old Westbury English Education graduate students–Griselda Ureña, Lindsey Johnston, and Jennifer Rollo– presented their research projects at the NCTE conference session “The Future is Now: Exploring 21st Century Teaching Ideas with the Next Generation of English Teachers.”  Griselda, Lindsey, and Jennifer presented alongside graduate students from 14 other universities across the country to an audience of over 130 attendees.

Our English teacher candidates represented the stories of SUNY Old Westbury education students and English majors as well as the stories of the students in the secondary English language arts classrooms in which they are observing. Jennifer Rollo’s presentation titled, “The Search for Identity through Inner Conflict in Hamlet” described the literary significance of this Shakespearean work and provided strategies for teaching the play to secondary school students in engaging ways.  Lindsey Johnston’s presentation, “Writing Connections: The Importance of Cross-Curricular Literacy,” detailed the importance of teaching writing across the curriculum in all school subjects in conjunction with teaching writing in English language arts classes. In Griselda Ureña’s presentation, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian: A Pairing of Young Adult Literature with Canonical Classics to Promote Student Engagement,” Griselda shared strategies for pairing influential works of Young Adult literature with critical canonical texts in order to engage students’ literacy interests, motivations, and fluencies. During their session, the students also had the opportunity to engage in important conversations with other graduate students and notable scholars in English Education whose work they have studied this semester.

Throughout the conference, the students attended sessions that explored “the many dimensions of story as the landscape of knowing–story as literary and informational text, story as cross-disciplinary collaborations, story as multiple literacies and genres, story as memory and identity, story as teacher knowledge and research, story as community and culture, story as marginalization, and story as resistance.” As future secondary English language arts teachers, our teacher candidates felt that it was an extremely eye-opening and important conference for all future and current English teachers to attend; it is an influential step in their acculturation process as teachers of English and as life-long learners.  As one student noted after the conference, “It’s a place to talk about English and literature and writing where everyone is speaking your language. Everyone there is really interested in what we are doing because they are all doing it too. It’s a really great feeling of community.” Likewise, the NCTE community was impressed with the work that our students are doing and have expressed a hope that our students will participate in future NCTE conventions.

To close the convention, NCTE President Ernest Morrell echoed our students’ sentiments. He encouraged all teachers of English to stand collectively as a group for social justice, and he inspired us to walk together to teach critical, activist literacy for and with all students.  He reassured us, “It is much easier when you are walking with people. NCTE should be the place to say ‘if you are about literacy and social justice, you don’t have to walk alone.’ And, you do not have to walk alone.” Our SUNY College at Old Westbury students are among those English teachers who are about literacy and social justice, and it is clear they are eager to be a part of the activist literacy movement to which Dr. Morrell refers.

Pictured below from Left to Right are SUNY College at Old Westbury graduate students Griselda Ureña, Jennifer Rollo, & Lindsey Johnston with their professor, Dr. Nicole Sieben, at the 2014 NCTE Annual Convention

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Summer Teaching Opportunities for Students with BA

Teach Reading to Students of All Ages This Summer
  • Earn more that $6,000 during the summer. Teachers typically earn between $500 and $700 per week while teaching.
  • Gain over 500 hours of teacher-training and teaching experience with a variety of age groups.
  • Help students of all ages develop their reading skills and ability to become imaginatively absorbed in books.

The Institute of Reading Development is seeking candidates for summer 2015 teaching positions. We seek applicants with an undergraduate degree or higher from any discipline. We provide a paid training program and comprehensive on-going support.

  • Have strong reading skills and read for pleasure
  • Have a Bachelor’s Degree in any discipline
  • Are responsible and hard working
  • Have good communication and organizational skills
  • Will be patient and supportive with students
  • Have regular access to a reliable car


The Institute teaches developmental reading programs in partnership with the continuing education departments of more than 100 colleges and universities across the United States. Our classes for students of all ages improve their reading skills and teach them to experience absorption in literature.

We invite you to submit an online application and learn more about teaching for the Institute at our website: http://instituteofreadingdevelopmentteachingjobs.com/

Life After Graduation: Experiences, Tips And Suggestions For Success

Life After Graduation: Experiences, Tips And Suggestions For Success

A Blog Post by Alumna, Victoria Centrella

Hello OW English Students!

I’m Victoria Centrella, an Old Westbury Alumna from 2011, but most here in the OW English Department simply know me as Tori.  It’s hard to believe that it has been three years since I’ve earned my degree from Old Westbury. A few weeks ago, on November 5th, I was given the opportunity to return to the OW campus and speak to many of you at the English Department’s open house about my current job as an Online Copywriter at Publishers Clearing House and life after graduation. I was thrilled to get the opportunity to reach out to so many of you, and for those who couldn’t attend any of the open house sessions I want to reach out to you now!

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Many of you are probably getting ready to graduate and maybe some of you are just starting your English career here. No matter what your class standing is, it is never too early to think about life after graduation, and that is exactly what I am here to tell you about. This is my story.

I graduated in May 2011 with a Bachelors in English and a minor study in Media and Communications.  Graduation was one of the most important days in my life, and I will never forget the feeling of walking across that stage and receiving my diploma after 4 years of hard work. I also knew that his marked the closing of one chapter, and the beginning of a new chapter of my life!

The day after graduation, while many of my peers were still celebrating and letting the novelty wear off, I was busy starting my job search! Ever hear the saying  “the early bird catches the worm?”  Well, in the job searching world this is 100% true! After applying to tons of jobs, I went on about a dozen interviews, including two “round-two” interviews before I landed my first full-time  job as an Assistant Copywriter for an advertising and Public Relations firm in Great Neck. I was super excited to have a full-time job only 3 months after college!

To make a long story short, that job only lasted about 6 months before the company ran into financial trouble. Mid-February of that year I found myself laid off and back at square one. After a ton of persistence and another 3 months of job searching I landed a temporary position at a small start-up company to hold me over. Unfortunately I sensed some issues with the company, and when they couldn’t increase their start up loans any further, I started applying to new positions in fear of being laid off again. Luckily, I landed my current job at Publishers Clearing House and have now been there a little over a year and a half.

So, what would I tell everyone whose still out there searching? I’d have to say my biggest piece of advice to you all is to be persistent. It truly pays off in the end. I did the job search more times than I would have liked after college, but I never gave up and I ultimately believe this is why I am in the position I have today.

Other advice I’d like to pass along is to stay organized and keep an open mind. I’ve worked in so many different industries, from journalism to retail and more. You never know what you can do until you try. Apply to everything and anything that you feel you are qualified for and that interests you.

Staying organized is probably even more important. Keep a log of places you’ve contacted. List the position, contact person, location, phone numbers and anything else that you feel is important. Nothing looks worse than speaking with a potential employer and forgetting everything about the company and the position.

I hope that this advice helps you all in the future! It’s rough out there after college, but with some hard work and dedication you can make it what you want.

Additionally, I know many of you have an interest in where I am currently working now at Publishers Clearing House (PCH). My company is more than just the sweepstakes part that everyone knows and loves. In actuality we are also a direct marketing company, selling fun products and magazines directly to our consumers. As I have been told, many of you have an interest in internship opportunities at PCH. Currently PCH is looking for marketing and social media interns. The people I have worked for here and the vast amount I have learned has probably been one of the most rewarding experiences in my career path thus far. Any interested students should absolutely contact PCH for a shot at one of these opportunities. You can apply by visiting pchjobs.com where you will find a complete listing of all available job and internship opportunities.

Best Of Luck!

Tori