Erin Porat has been teaching third grade since September 2013, which is the same month that she began her studies here at DePaul. In the summer of 2015, Erin graduated from the College of Education with a M.Ed. in Curriculum Studies for Social Justice, Democracy and Urban Education. Before moving to Chicago, Erin studied at Purdue University, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.
For Erin, studying in the College of Education was a welcome change of pace after her time teaching in a Chicago charter school challenged her mentally, physically, and emotionally. Her experience in the charter school was at odds with her personal philosophy; she states, “The growth of students as whole people was not a priority.” However, Erin notes that learning from and working with Drs. Jeffrey Kuzmic, and Joby Gardner, along with several strong, incredibly kind and “wicked smart” classmates was a positive influence in her transformative journey. Today, Erin is full of hope and is working in a school that she adores.
Reflecting on the impact of the master’s program on her life Erin says, “The relationships I made, the conversations I had, and the texts I read during the CS M.Ed. program completely changed my outlook on myself as a professional educator, friend and citizen. I will always credit DePaul for that priceless growth and bright future.” Further, Erin says her experience at DePaul informs her professional practice each and every day. She explains, “I am constantly thinking in terms of equity and mindfulness. DePaul taught me that every single curricular decision I make as an educator is an important one that will impact students’ sense of self and possibility in relation to their peers, community and the world. If that isn’t enough to prove to teachers that our work matters…then I don’t know what is.”
Erin’s goal for the future is to continue working toward change in education in her immediate realm of possibility. She acknowledges that she used to be easily disappointed by her efforts for change because she was thinking big and expecting change to happen soon. Now, she knows that her classroom, her school and her colleagues are who she can count on to make real change. “Together,” she explains, “we can reach thousands of children across all neighborhoods. Let’s strive to achieve the type of learning that changes lives.” To Erin, the empowerment of educators is a tool that can have a large impact on creating learning experiences that are deeply meaningful and authentic.