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Joan Brodsky Schur
Joan was an indifferent and rather shy student until she reached the seventh grade, when the excitement of learning and participating in classroom debate took hold of her and never let go.
"I trace my desire to be a teacher to this turning point in junior high school, and suspect that this is why I love to teach this age group more than any other. From then on, I always watched my teachers teach me and reflected on what made great teaching. Fortunately, I had many talented and passionate teachers for which I will always be grateful."
Joan is currently the social studies coordinator at the Village Community School in New York, where she works with teachers to help them develop their curricula. She received her BA and her MAT degree from New York University. She has been at the Village Community School for twenty-six years, teaching English and social studies.
"Teaching is about the students, the world of the imagination, and of ideas. It is putting that together that excites me most. For me, the greatest pleasure comes in the spring when I can observe how far each student has come. The further I take each individual, the more the whole group learns. When a year goes well, the class shares the excitement of being a community of learners and of learning from one another."
Joan continues her love of learning in her personal life as well. During the past ten years she has traveled to Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, China, Mongolia, Tibet, Korea, and Morocco to further the curriculum development she does on world cultures.
She is the author of twenty articles that have appeared in professional journals, including Social Education. She served as curriculum developer for several of Ken Burns's series on PBS, including Jazz, The West, The Civil War, and the upcoming The War.
Her areas of specialty include American history, immigration, anthropology, Islam in world history, modern European history, and literature related to those fields.
She has been a regular presenter at national conferences for teachers since 1995.
"Right now, professional development is my passion. I think the key word here is 'profession.' Too often society does not see teaching as a profession. There is much more to being a teacher than being in one classroom. Once teachers get out to share and learn from one another, a whole new dimension to teaching is set in motion.
"Writing a book is another form of teaching. It is reaching out to an audience using a different medium. Like teaching writing, the book presented the challenge of finding the right balance between rigorous structure and following my intuition."
Joan and her husband study French as a hobby and travel to France on family vacation each year. She has a daughter who is in medical school.