Education Students Named to “30 Under 30” List

Photo by Patrick Verel

Photo by Patrick Verel

Two Fordham Graduate School of Education (GSE) students have been honored by the International Literacy Association (ILA) for their efforts to advance literacy for all.
Alex Corbitt, 26, FCRH ‘12, GSE ‘13, and John Maldonado, 25, FCRH ’13, a doctoral student, were named to the ILA’s second annual “30 Under 30” list, an honor bestowed to teachers, authors, volunteers, researchers, social entrepreneurs, and leaders from 12 countries.

Maldonado, a Rego Park, Queens native who graduated with a double major in psychology and English, became a NYC teaching fellow and taught special education at P368K Star Academy in Brooklyn. He is working towards a doctorate in contemporary learning and interdisciplinary research while teaching English at his alma mater, Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens.

He said being named to the list is a validation of what he called the “ugly hours” that all teachers put in—time when they put in extra hours at home, trying to figure out how to best convey information to their students and how to attend to their additional needs.

“As educators, we don’t often get the credit we deserve,” said Maldonado, who is interested in equity and culture, and the roles they play in education. He noted that, beyond his teaching he worked to increase his students’ technological literacy, “in order to give them more career and life opportunities.”

“To be recognized for that work is really validating,” he said. “I’m lucky to be the recipient. But a lot of teachers are doing the same thing.”

Read the full post at Fordham News.


“Inquiring minds want to learn: Empowering his students is the goal for Bronx literacy teacher

For the October issue of New York Teacher, Linda Ocasio focused on GSE alum Alex Corbitt, who was named to the International Literacy Association’s “30 Under 30” List. In the past two years, three GSE students or alumni have made the ILA 30 Under 30. Corbitt joins CLAIR student John Maldonado in this year’s list. Last year, alum Madison Payton was named. Read the full article at the UFT website.

image via UFT and Miller Photography

Arizona is geographically — and culturally — far from New York City. But when the 8th-graders in Alex Corbitt’s Teen Activism class watch a documentary called “Precious Knowledge,” about Tucson HS students fighting for the right to study their Mexican heritage, it resonates deeply. Many of Corbitt’s students at the Bronx School of Science Inquiry and Investigation/MS 331 in Morris Heights are from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico or Ecuador, and they have plenty to say on the topic.

“We can learn about both American and Latino history, past and present,” says Destiny.

Pedro is bothered by an Arizona legislator in the film who calls the Latino studies program seditious and anti-American. “He said it’s anti-American, but isn’t it more American to fight for what you believe in?” Pedro asks.

It’s a good question. And for Corbitt, it’s all about the questions.

“The goal is not to do the thinking for them,” he says. Corbitt, an ELA teacher, believes literacy is not just about reading and writing but about empowering students to become “critically engaged citizens” and that includes questioning the world around them.

In September, Corbitt, age 26 and in his fourth year of teaching, was named to the International Literacy Association’s “30 Under 30 List,” which recognizes “rising leaders” from 12 countries, including teachers, nonprofit leaders, authors, researchers and others at the start of their careers who are promoting “literacy in all its forms to those who need it most.”

John Maldonado, a teacher at P 368/Star Academy in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, also was recognized for his work helping students with autism develop literacy skills.

Read the full article at the United Federation of Teachers website.

GSE Welcomes Back Alumni at Inaugural Reunion

On June 9th, GSE welcome back over 40 alumni to the inaugural GSE Reunion. The event was part of the larger Fordham Lincoln Center Reunion that welcomed alumni from Fordham College Lincoln Center, the Gabelli School of Business, the School of Professional and Continuing Studies, and the Graduate School of Social Services.

Dean Virginia Roach welcomed the group back home to Fordham, remarking on GSE’s accomplishments over the past year, including rising 14 spots in the U.S. News and World Report rankings. Watch the GSE video that outlines many of our year’s accomplishments. Later, she reflected on the range of careers and interests of the alumni group, many of whom are using their Fordham degrees to impact their fields in ways they had not anticipated.

Father Joseph McShane, S.J., President of Fordham, spoke to the group about the Graduate School of Education as one of the key mission-driven and mission-focused schools within the university. GSE’s student body reflects Fordham’s founding principle of Service to the Community: they are a group that comes from the city and works to make their home better. He spoke of GSE students as those called into not just a career, but a vocation.

Longtime Fordham Employee Celebrates Family’s First College Grad


When Verenika Lasku reflects on the time she and her husband Bobby spent raising three children in the Bronx on just his custodial salary, she doesn’t sugar coat it, noting plainly, “It was really hard.”

The two immigrated to the Belmont neighborhood from Kosovo in 1995. While her husband worked, Lasku stayed at home and raised their three children. But when their youngest entered kindergarten, she also began looking for work in custodial services. Two years later, she landed a job just a few blocks from their Arthur Avenue home, at Fordham’s Rose Hill campus.

On May 21, 10 years of scrubbing, sweeping, mopping, dusting, and setting up for campus events finally paid off, as Valentina, the oldest of their children, earned a master’s from the Graduate School of Education (GSE). Valentina had already earned a bachelor’s in psychology last year from Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH), but the day was no less sweet for Verenika.

“I’m so proud of her. It’s even better with a master’s,” she said.

Read the full story at Fordham News.

Ivan Borras ’15 Receives Marva Collins Excellence in Teaching Award

by Dr. Diane Rodriguez


Ivan Borras (center) with Drs. Su-Je Cho (left) and Diane Rodriguez (right)

Mr. Ivan Borras ’15 (Adolescent Special Education) has received the 2016 Marva Collins Excellence in Teaching Award from the Division for Learning Disabilities of the Council for Exceptional Children. He currently teaches at Entrada Academy X384. Ivan Borras, who was born and raised in the Bronx, had to overcome numerous adversities growing up; accordingly, he has a strong understanding of the trials and tribulations affecting youths in urban areas. As a product of the community and the public school system, he feels it is not only his obligation to give back, but also to be the best role model he can be. Borras cannot say college was in his thoughts when he graduated from high school; he had other priorities that pushed education out of reach though he envied the few peers who attended college and, more so, those who resided on campus.

Borras has been serving the Bronx community since 2004. First, he became a paraprofessional despite not knowing what the position entailed. The very first step was taking the ATAS exam (Assessment of Teaching Assistant Skills), which he passed successfully without any prior knowledge of the content, and became a substitute paraprofessional. This experience brought him closer to the teaching profession.

borras2Borras decided to become a certified special education teacher in order to improve the academic experience of culturally and linguistically diverse students with disabilities. He was able to relate to students and possessed an innate ability to draw students’ attention. Where teachers lacked classroom management, Borras would take initiative to not only assist, but at times conduct, lessons. Borras had found his passion in life: to help the youth of New York City. He soon became highly sought out by several schools for permanent employment. After receiving a permanent position, he utilized the academic resources provided by the Department of Education. One of those resources was a partial tuition scholarship, which Borras used to complete his undergraduate education at Mercy College. Ten years from the time he started with the New York City Public School system, Borras became a certified Special Education teacher and acquired a master’s degree in special education with a specialization to teach students with learning disabilities.

Borras comes to school with an excitement and zeal to make great things happen with his students. He has gained the respect of all the students he has worked with and from his colleagues as well. His students respect Mr. Borras because he passionately cares for their learning. Mr. Borras does not see his students as individuals who go from his class like an assembly line, but as students who need a lot of attention, specific strategies, and tons of caring in order for them to respond to instruction. Mr. Borras is able to reach that level of rapport that sets him apart in how he speaks to the students and demands the best that they have in a manner that makes it non-threatening for the student.

borras3Mr. Borras is a fighter. He fights for his students relentlessly. He will challenge any initiative that will not allow his students to learn or achieve effectively in his class. He will build an argument and show others how the curriculum may not fit his students’ needs. Importantly, rather than convey negativity about extant circumstances, he offers alternatives, which might involve creating a curriculum with the proper scaffolds, differentiation and strategies that will allow his students to navigate through the work, achieving mastery and independence.

One of the most notable and fundamental aspects of Mr. Borras’s work is his understanding of youth development and how it applies to students in special education classes. Mr. Borras’s work in the classroom includes strategies that will bring the group together in a round table discussion, smaller group setting, or paired work. Students will rotate in stations in his class, get up from their seats and work on charts in various places in the classroom and still have opportunities for sharing and writing. Mr. Borras goes above and beyond the call of duty by volunteering to work with students on weekends.

The elation Mr. Borras now feels, having gained a profession position that enables him to work with diverse students, despite the adversities he faced, provides insights into why he is a teacher in one of the poorest congressional districts in the nation. It is his homage to the students and teachers of the Bronx, who have helped shape who he is. Mr. Borras loves children, and that is one of the reasons he wanted to became a teacher, to help children, to make a difference in their lives, and to encourage them to reach their fullest potential. Mr. Borras strives to emphasize the important role of education. He will continue to empower his students to be confident and see themselves as creators of their own futures. Through his thoughtful, effective, and inspiring approach to teaching, his students will develop innovative and principled ideas, and their leadership will enlighten the world.

April 8: GSE Alumni Reception in Washington, DC


GSE Reception | Friday, 8 April 2016
6 p.m. Reception
Penn Social | The Seasonal Bar
801 E. Street NW | Washington, D.C. | 20004


Virginia Roach, EdD, the new dean of the Graduate School of Education (GSE), cordially invites you to join her in Washington, D.C., for a GSE reception.

This event corresponds with the 2016 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting, “Public Scholarship to Educate Diverse Democracies,” and creates an opportunity for like-minded members of the Fordham community to connect with one another.

Please join us in celebrating our tradition of excellent education. Share your GSE experience and meet alumni in your area of interest.

Light refreshments and a cash bar will be available.




Juanita de Guzman Gutierrez ’96 Publishes “Speak Tagalog: A Basic Primer”


Juanita de Guzman Gutierrez as a Novice

Juanita de Guzman Gutierrez (Reading Literacy MSE) published Speak Tagalog: A Basic Primer with Outskirts Press. The book covers the basics of conversational Tagalog, as well as the language’s history, its alphabet, and prayers.

Tagalog is the primary or secondary language for a majority of Philippines residents. Since approximately 93% of Filipinos are Catholic, Gutierrez included Holy Rosary prayers for readers.

“This book would make a valuable addition to high schools, universities, and consular offices—for those seeking to further diplomatic relations, continue their adult education, or even for children of Philippine mixed marriages who want to study their mother tongue. It’s good to be a linguist!” says Gutierrez.

Gutierrez spent ten years teaching English and journalism, and serving as the school newspaper adviser in the Philippines before moving to New York City in 1987 to teach. For the next nine years, she taught in the Archdiocese of New York and then spent fourteen years teaching in the New York City public schools.

coverAfter her teaching career, Gutierrez became a pre-post postulant and postulant at the Monastery of Holy Mary in Rockville, Virginia. She was unable to continue her religious life due to family illness and now spends her time traveling and writing books. Read more about Gutierrez and her book, Speak Tagalog.

When asked whether she wanted to send a message to the Fordham GSE community, Gutierrez replied “Go, Fordham, you’re the best!!!”

“Your College Essay Isn’t a Selfie”

Florina Rodov ’07 (Adolescence English) published an article in Education Week where she discusses the importance of confronting failure and embracing imperfections, particularly in college essays and on campuses.

The precursor to the homogeneous ideas students will voice on campus appears to be the airbrushed essays they will write to get in. In the ones I have read, in my capacity as a former high school English teacher, I have seen much self-aggrandizement, but little self-effacement. I have come across perfect grammar, but no imperfect expression. I have rarely seen the vulnerability that is in us all.

Read the full article at Education Week.