Graduate develops cultural sensitivity course

August 30, 2017

Graduate student teaches in front of a room of school-age students

With his first year of teaching history to 9th, 10th and 11th graders at Pomperaug High School in Southbury, Connecticut under his belt, Michael Syrotiak ’15, MAT ’16 feels energized, and is already thinking about his second year.

“It takes a lot of work and preparation to plan three courses,” he said. “But the master of arts in teaching program at Quinnipiac University School of Education consistently challenged me to do more. That was my motto: Do as much as you can — and enjoy yourself while doing it.”

While teaching at Pomperaug, Syrotiak started a school volleyball club, refereed soccer games and chaperoned dances and other events. He also designed a course, “Conversations on Race,” which will begin this semester.

“Cultural sensitivity is something incredibly important in education,” he said. “Moreover, it’s a subject I am very passionate about.”

Syrotiak credits the MAT program with helping him to develop a personal educational philosophy, as well as his own techniques for creating effective lesson plans, structuring assessments and adapting his curriculum for a variety of learners.

He also lauds the program for guiding him through the certification process, and offering workshops dedicated to all aspects of the job search experience.

BA/MAT Five-Year Program in Secondary Education

“I landed an offer before I even graduated,” Syrotiak said. “That’s rare. It shows how well the program prepared me for the interview process.”

Syrotiak said a number of MAT course offerings prepared him to tackle heavy subject matter and tailor it to a high school classroom. He also relied on guidance and feedback from his former professors — now colleagues — when developing the class.

“I send my old professors questions and ideas about curriculums and pedagogy all the time,” he said. “They always make the time for me.”

In kind, Syrotiak has made the time to give back to his alma mater. He has taught student workshops on filling out job applications, Praxis test prep for elementary education teachers and crafting cover letters and resumes.

“I tell current students that there are days when I wonder how I am possibly getting paid to do this,” he said. “I can’t think of a better job.”

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