The New School for Social Research Celebrates Its Outstanding Graduate Student Teachers
“Being a student teacher is important work,” said Provost Renée T. White during the fall welcome reception of The New School for Research (NSSR). “Assistantships and fellowships are an opportunity for our graduate students to cultivate skills that will serve them well in academia and beyond, and New School students and faculty benefit enormously from having thoughtful and motivated students who are experts in their subject area to lead discussion sessions or design and teach entire classes themselves.”
During its first in-person welcome reception in three years, NSSR honored the recipients of its 2022 Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award: Ignacia Castellon, a PhD Sociology student; Ramon de Haan, a PhD Anthropology student; Agnese Di Riccio, a PhD Philosophy student; Anastasiia Kalk, a PhD Politics student; Julia Superka, a PhD Clinical Psychology student; and Clara Zanon Brenck, a PhD Economics student.
“It’s a privilege to be able to do something we don’t do enough of, and that is to celebrate with each other when people provide distinguished work,” said President Dwight A. McBride during the reception. “This is an opportunity for us to honor some extraordinary and exceptional graduate student teachers for the incredible work they are doing in the classroom and beyond the classroom to advance the mission of teaching and learning at The New School.”
NSSR established the Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award in 2015 to recognize student teachers for their ability to guide students through thought-provoking discussions, connect complex topics to students’ lived experiences, and create a supportive, engaging, and compassionate learning environment. The award is of special significance to the recipients, as nominations are submitted by the students and faculty with whom they have worked. NSSR received nearly 100 nominations this year.
In addition to managing the regular tasks of lesson planning, grading, and teaching, student teachers in the 2021–2022 academic year also had to facilitate a return to campus during the second year of the pandemic, when both remote and in-person teaching were offered.
“Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination; you have helped make this award an important and personal way to honor our graduate Teaching Assistants and Teaching Fellows. And a very special thank you to all teaching assistants and teaching fellows for all of your hard work and critical contributions to student learning at The New School,” said NSSR Dean Will Milberg.
“Teaching for me is one of the most interesting and exciting parts of academic work. It is first of all the practice of human connection,” said Kalk. “The good teachers that I remember all share the ability to create some genuine sense of community in the classroom. They can build bridges between different people, systems of knowledge, and life experiences. I was deeply honored to learn that my students felt that we could create a thrilling space for mutual learning in our class. I am grateful to this outstanding group of thinkers who showed that learning philosophy and history could be as engaging and fun as watching a new TV show.”
“The most rewarding aspect of my teaching experience was watching the students integrate their academic interests with cognitive neuroscience. Observing them building self-esteem in their understanding of neuroscience over the course of the semester was inspiring,” said Superka.
“It’s absolutely life affirming to meet and connect with my Lang students, in all their individuality and complexity. They all care incredibly about thinking about and creating a better world, and I learned so much from our classroom discussions. It leaves me hopeful about the future,” saids de Haan.“I think there is a misconception in academia that is becoming stronger by the minute: We tend to believe that our work—studying, attending classes, researching, writing, or even thinking—are lonely enterprises,” said Castellon. “I would argue against this misconception by maintaining that academia is a collective endeavor. The student–teacher relationship is an incredibly rewarding experience in that sense. It breaks with the unidimensional power dynamics that have been haunting academia since the very beginning, and instead provides an opportunity to fulfill the desire for community. In all disciplines of the social sciences, but especially sociology, a big part of our learning experience lies in our subjective interaction with our different environments. Those are the experiences that need to be voiced for a full learning process. My students invited me to enter the deepest, most hidden corners of their subjectivities, as I invited them to mine. To receive an award for that, for the way I always imagined that academia should be, is by far the most rewarding part of this work.”