“I always thought I had the patience and the desire to help others. I felt like that was where I could make the biggest difference in the world. These kids really needed me more than others,” she explained in a recent interview.

But she couldn’t have predicted that in June 2022, she’d graduate with a master’s degree in Jewish Childhood Education and Special Education at Touro, and give a commencement address to more than 1,300 other candidates for the master’s degree in a Coney amphitheater. Island.

As Trachtenberg recalled in his remarks on that recent summer day, school sometimes presented challenges, which taught him the importance of self-advocacy, hard work, and self-understanding. even as a learner. She envisioned becoming a teacher who would motivate, empower and advocate for her students.

“I have often dreamed of a good teacher who would teach me in the best way for me, while making me feel confident and happy in school. I strive to be that teacher,” he said. she shared with the audience.

The road to success

Special education provided him with this opportunity. This fall, she will begin her fifth year of teaching at Shefa School, a pluralistic Jewish school in Manhattan for children in grades 1 through 8 with language learning disabilities.

His path to Shefa – and Touro – was a combination of luck, hard work and chasing his dream.

At Muhlenberg College, Trachtenberg took elementary education courses and made the dean’s list, earning a BA in sociology.

During her senior year of college, a family friend invited her to visit Yeshivat He’Atid in Teaneck, NJ as a substitute teacher. She joined the teaching staff full-time as a teaching assistant the following year.

At Yeshivat He’Atid, a “regular” school where students learn in small groups within a larger class, Trachtenberg often found herself thinking about how best to support struggling students, with or without disabilities. of learning.

“It was obvious that there were children in the class who had something that was hindering their learning – whether they had been diagnosed or not. I found those were the kids I gravitated towards because they needed a little nudge,” she said.

Two years later, she would enter the Shefa Teacher Residency program, where she taught and was mentored for two years by an assistant teacher in primary school. At that time, she could apply for a position as a head teacher — provided she is enrolled in a master’s program in special education.

Path to Touro

Trachtenberg was applying to graduate programs in New York when she learned from her supervisor in Shefa that Touro was starting a new degree program in Jewish Childhood Education and Special Education. The program would be in line with Shefa’s program and philosophy, and seemed to fit perfectly on many other levels as well.

She felt that studying in Touro could help her fill in the gaps in her Jewish upbringing and knowledge of Hebrew. After all, she herself hadn’t been a student in a Jewish environment for 4e to note. She could go to school part-time for three years and still be a full-time teacher in Shefa. She also loved the prospect of developing relationships with new colleagues as part of the program’s inaugural course.

“One of the great things has been creating a network of educators outside of my job. Now I have connections with other teachers who also have a wealth of knowledge [from whom] I can really learn,” she said. “We have become a community of learners that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.”

At Touro, Trachtenberg worked hard and improved his Hebrew with the help of his teachers and classmates. She learned new curriculum models as well as new classroom management techniques. More importantly, Trachtenberg said she remembered the student experience.

“There is no such thing as a good teacher, because good teachers and bad teachers affect us longer than the time we spend in their classrooms,” she told the crowd in June. of Coney Island. “Over the past three years, I have… been reminded of the student experience, which has made me a better, more empathetic teacher who knows that I must continue to learn from my mistakes and my triumphs.”