English teacher Sophie Oberfield and history teacher Robert Sandler were nominated as New York Library Fellows to special colloquiums offered by the Academy of Teachers, a program partnered with the New York Public Library (NYPL) in mid-April. According to the email from the Library, the nomination is for “honors excellence in teaching. Fellows are chosen by the virtue of their passion for their subject, creativity in the classrooms and devotion to the profession.”
NYPL sent a letter to Principal Stanley Teitel notifying him of the two nominations, and Oberfield and Sandler were consequently informed. It is unknown by whom they were nominated.
Sandler, along with 14 other social studies teachers across the city, attended the lecture with renowned Yale professor David Blight on Thursday, June 7 to talk about Frederick Douglas. Blight is an authority on slavery during the civil war and on Fredrick Douglass, and he discussed how to teach Frederick Douglass’s autobiography. Sandler was asked to give a PowerPoint presentation on different methods of teaching on Douglass.
“We talked about different strategies [on] how to make it interesting for students. I met teachers who deal with all different students in the city with different levels of literacy, so that was interesting to see. How do you teach when there are kids at different levels in the class? That’s something we don’t have at Stuyvesant,” Sandler said.
Sandler also received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant at Columbia University to attend a class under Professor Kenneth Jackson in mid-July. It will be a week-long seminar focusing on New York City history, starting from the Gilded Age up until 9/11.
In total, 40 teachers nationwide were picked to attend. They will visit important sites around the city, such as Ground Zero, Harlem, and the Lower East Side.
Sandler, who applied for the grant personally, teaches the New York City History course at Stuyvesant and hopes that the seminar will help him to improve his class.
All in all, Sandler thought the Blight Lecture was a memorable experience. “We discussed Frederick Douglass’s life all day, inside the beautiful, old, historic New York Public Library on 42nd St, near Bryant Park. It was amazing,” Sandler said. “I really got that feel that I knew Frederick Douglass by the time I was done with all eight hours of discussing him.”