Four Trinity Educators Share Lessons From the Classroom
Amina Pleasant-Bey ´04
Amina Pleasant-Bey ’04 was a scholar-athlete at Trinity and to all those who knew her, she embodied a genuine spirit of participation. She graduated with a degree in computer science and mathematics and today is putting her degree to work just a few miles from Trinity at the Washington Mathematics Science Technology Public Charter High School (WMST) in Northeast, D.C.
Pleasant-Bey always knew she wanted to be a teacher, but delayed pursing a job in the field because, as she stated with her characteristic chuckle and smile, “I wanted to make some money first! I realized even then that teachers are often underpaid and undervalued.” After working at a law firm for a year, Pleasant- Bey became disillusioned with the field of computer technology and knew it was time to make a change. Still unsure about her next step, Pleasant-Bey took some time off to visit her “big sister” Bridget Shanahan ’02, who was a Peace Corps volunteer working in southern Africa.
The trip was a life-changing experience which made Pleasant-Bey realize that she could no longer delay her teaching career. “It was an awakening experience to see the lack of resources and lack of education the average person had there.” Indeed, children as young as ten years old were expected to work if their parents didn’t have the means to send them to school. In Africa, she observed the seriousness with which the children in the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Republic of South Africa pursued their education. And, she realized how often Americans take their education for granted. She was “inspired to come home and try to make a difference in my local community.”
Pleasant-Bey returned to D.C. determined to share her “newfound global view of education with American students and to promote academic rigor within the local school system.” At the mathematics charter school, Pleasant-Bey found a partner in that vision. WMST’s mission is to “offer a rigorous, standards based, college preparatory education which will prepare young people in the District with an interest in math, science and technology for success in work and life.” Pleasant-Bey teaches geometry and SAT math preparation to students in grades 9-12.
While immensely satisfying, Pleasant-Bey’s work is also relentlessly challenging. Her teenage high school students are often balancing the adult responsibilities of parenthood or full-time jobs with their school work – while desperately holding fast to the dream of attaining a college degree. Pleasant-Bey counters her students’ talk of “fast money” or a sense of hopelessness by using herself as a role model and support system. “I’m young. I look like my students and share a similar background. I believe that makes a difference. I’m a living example that they can make it.”
In order to promote student success, Pleasant-Bey gives all students her personal phone number so they can reach her anytime and to show them she really cares. She also proposed and implemented an after-school study hall to provide students with a quiet environment to complete their homework. Pleasant-Bey looks forward to working within the D.C. public school system for years to come and now knows that “becoming a teacher is one of the best ways to use the degree that I earned at Trinity.”
Adam Lane-Basler ´04
Adam Lane-Basler graduated from Trinity in 2004 with an MAT with a specialization in special education. He was inspired to teach by his parents, both of whom are teachers. Lane-Basler is now a special education teacher at the California Department of Developmental Services, working with blind adults in Sonoma County, California.
When asked how Trinity prepared him for his current position, which he has held for nine months, he notes, “In my current position as a teacher at the Sonoma Developmental Center, I use key ideas from most of my classes almost everyday. The practical knowledge of learning how to work with other adults was probably the most valuable concept.”
Lane-Basler credits Dr. Lawrence Riccio in teaching him how to, “help me stay professional, confident and competent during many conversations in a stressful day,” and he advises students currently in the education program, “to challenge yourself to do something new everyday.”
Rich Weinfeld ´79
Rich Weinfeld came to Trinity as part of a special MAT program that was a combined effort by Trinity and the Montgomery County Public Schools. Designed to prepare teachers to meet the needs of students with emotional problems, Weinfeld credits the significant amount of supervised field experience with preparing him for his career. During his 30 years working for the Montgomery County Public School system, he taught elementary school, ran a middle school learning disabilities program and served as director of programs for students who are simultaneously learning-disabled and gifted.
Weinfeld recently co-authored the book Smart Kids With Learning Difficulties: Overcoming Obstacles and Realizing Potential, which encourages educators and parents to take a closer look at learning-disabled children who exhibit giftedness. He said he became an advocate for the learning-disabled to help students, “who had the potential for academic success but had obstacles that were making success in the typical classroom difficult for them.” Weinfeld’s advice for current students in Trinity’s School of Education: “I would urge them to hold on to their idealism and not lose sight of the reason that they are going into this field.”
Bernadette Glaze ´04
Bernadette Glaze, an advanced academic programs specialist in the Fairfax County (VA ) Public Schools, recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Baccalaureate Organization.
Glaze began her career with FCPS in 1974 at Lake Braddock Secondary School, and moved to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in 1986. In 1994, she transferred to Mt. Vernon High School to teach in the international baccalaureate (IB) program. Soon after, she was named IB coordinator. Glaze encouraged all students at Mount Vernon to take at least one IB class. As a result, enrollment in IB classes at Mount Vernon jumped from 30 students the first year to more than 350 today. She was tapped to become FCPS’ first social studies specialist and later, coordinator of advanced academic programs, where she oversees both IB and Advanced Placement programs. Glaze earned her MAT from Trinity in 2004.
Glaze has been involved with the Northern Virginia Writing Project for more than 25 years, serving as a consultant, co-director, coordinator of in-service training, and staff member, and helping select and prepare teachers to learn proven techniques in teaching writing and using writing to learn. Throughout her career, she has worked to improve learning opportunities for students, challenging them and teaching teachers how to best help their students.