Caryn Davis had years of teaching experience behind her, including teaching English to speakers of other languages. Yet after taking a job in CUNY's Language Immersion Program (CLIP) at the College of Staten Island, she felt the need for an advanced degree. The MA TESOL program at The New School for Public Engagement was a "perfect fit," she says, citing the appeal of a required practicum, collaboration with peers and faculty, and the combination of face-to-face and online learning. "The faculty are so strong conceptually, and they are dedicated to sharing with their students the latest advances in ESOL teaching."
Davis, a working mother, continued to teach full-time; she took most of her classes during the summer and online. She enjoyed interacting with fellow New School students on campus in Greenwich Village but also in the virtual classrooms that brought together ESOL teachers from all over the world. For her, this exposure to people in many countries was part of the learning experience. "It really broadened my understanding of how students learn and teachers teach in different parts of the globe."
While at The New School, Davis developed her Altered Book Project, an exercise for ESOL students in which they are challenged to create personal artworks by filling recycled books with their own poems, essays, collages, photos, and drawings. Since the exercise requires students to write and speak to one another in English, their vocabulary, speaking skills, and self-confidence blossom. Davis shares this experience in the chapter she wrote for Our Stories, Ourselves, an anthology about literacy education for women.
In 2010, Caryn T. Davis received the Literacy Recognition Award from the Literacy Assistance Center and was honored by the New York Times as an ESOL Teacher of the Year.