Congratulations to Wagner College’s Carin Guarasci, who was recently named a Woman of Distinction by the New York State Senate. She will be honored at the annual Women of Distinction program in Albany, N.Y. on May 13. Below is the text of Prof. Guarasci’s nomination for this honor, provided by the office of N.Y. State Senator Andrew Lanza:
Carin Guarasci is a community-involved Staten Islander. She serves on the boards of Notre Dame Academy and New World Prep Charter School. She has been recognized by various community organizations and agencies for her outstanding work, including Seamen’s Society for Children, Project Hospitality, American Cancer Society, Paralyzed Veterans of America, the United States Holocaust Museum, and many others. Her awards include the Les Trautmann Memorial Award, the Mount Carmel and St. Benedict Outstanding Professional Woman, and the Bethel Community Church Distinguished Educational Leader.
Carin Guarasci is an education professor and the founding director of NEW — New Educators at Wagner College. From the very beginning, NEW has had a tremendous impact on first- and second-year teachers. Carin realized that they needed extra support, and she created a way to give it to them! Data show that nearly 50% of all new teachers leave the field within the first 5 years, primarily because of a lack of support. Many college graduates who thought that they would become educators leave the field. What do we see? Wasted resources, unhappy parents who sacrificed for their children’s college education, and frustrated new teachers. Carin single-handedly put together the NEW program to support and nurture these teachers who might otherwise have become a part of this grim statistic.
Not only did she conceptualize this program, but she sought and received grants from the Staten Island Foundation and an anonymous donor to ensure that the program was funded. These lucky chosen teachers receive 3 Wagner graduate credits for greatly reduced prices. Carin establishes an atmosphere for the New Educators at Wagner program that is quite different from most graduate school classes. For starters, the NEW classes are held in her home! After a long day teaching in the classroom, they find nourishment for both body and soul at the Guarasci home. It has become a safe haven for developing teachers who can voice their fears in safety. They know Carin listens to them. She shares her wisdom: good, solid judgment to guide these teachers through the rough patches that they almost universally feel. Carin gets to know them, sees deficiencies and helps them overcome them.
Is this it? No; there’s plenty more work involved. At the end of the New Educators at Wagner course, these young teachers show that they have successfully completed their first year with a research project. They study a problem of their own choosing in depth, and they make a presentation to interested Staten Island educators upon completion of their program. It is truly impressive to see their growth and development. These fledgling teachers become remarkable educators with a strong sense of self and the ability to see a brighter future for themselves. In the 5 years since the program’s inception, not one NEW teacher has left the profession, and many have excelled in their schools, becoming “teachers’ teachers.”
As one Staten Island principal, Evelyn Finn, has said, “I never thought that [a particular teacher] would make it through the first year — but, lo and behold, she is now on my leadership team. I attribute this exponential growth to her participation in the NEW program. I have seen Carin Guarasci come to school, observe, reflect, and discuss technique with [my teacher] — and, as a result, I have seen remarkable change in someone who would either been a marginal teacher or have left the field. Teachers have told me that Carin makes them feel that a job has become a true vocation.”