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Susan's Introduction

Susan Dorfman's picture
Like other participants in the institute, I am an educator. I have enjoyed the teaching role all my life. I went to a K through 8 inner city public school in Phila and then to a large inner city high school, followed by matricultion at a large city college, Temple U. in Phila. I lived at home and spent my free time working to earn money at various jobs on and off campus. During all these years, from grade 4 on, I help other students in my classes. In college, I tutored and also volunteered as a reader for the blind. To put my husband through professional school, I worked as a technician in a research lab at UPENN. There, I developed a sence of myself as a capable scientist and teacher. When my hsband graduated, I began my graduate education. I wanted to pursue my own ideas and realized that I would need the credentials afforded by a Ph.D. I was facinated by the brain, maybe because of the limitations of my own. Much later as the parent of two children, I went through the process of seeking help with my son's developmental issues and discovered why school had always been both a joy and a struggle for me. I have auditory processing issues. All through elementary school, my teachers reproted hearing deficits. My parents were instructed to take me for testing at the Board of Education in Phila. No hearing deficit was ever found and no further testing was ever recommended. My issues were not lack of ability to hear sound but to process sound. In addition, I reverse opposites. As a young person, i would stop on green and cross on red. Without an analysis of my frequent almost disasterous pedestrian encounters, I trained myself to verbalize the color of the light and the appropriate command. I also reverse letters and needed to train myself to verbalize while I read. Knowledge of my own learning and application issues have made me very sensitive to the potential needs of my students. I have always used multiple ways of communication just in case my students need them. Verbal, auditory, visual instruction (both in class board and handouts as well as my class website) are used in my classes each day. I worked as a research scientists for 11 years. During those years I taught, formally in the teaching of Gross Anatomy to Penn dental students, and informally to train the multitude of technicians, undergrad and grad students, neurology residents, and post doc students who came through our lab. I loved the teaching aspect of my life. In the mid 1980's, when research money became tight and the demands of raising two young children not compatible with the demands of tissue culture based research, I choose to investigate the independent school system. In a private girls school, I have now taught for 18 years. I have taught science to kindergarteners, 5th, 6th, and 7th graders and also AP Biology to seniors. For the last nine years, I have taught Grade 7 Biology and the AP Biology course. My experience in both public and private schools and in all three levels of pre-college education as well as post college teaching have contributed to both a wealth of personal experience and observation and a wealth of questions that need exploration. That is why I enrolled in the 2006 Brain and Behavior Institute and the 2008 Science as Inquiry Institute.


jrlewis's picture

Loved listening your

Loved listening your introduction.  Did you ever see the bumper sticker that says, "It will be a great day when our schools have all the money they need, and our air force has to have a bake-sale to buy a bomber."  Thought you might appreciate it.