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Community Connections: Retired Local Educator Volunteers with Lower School Students

Barbara Goldstein has been a teacher pretty much as long as anyone can remember. She has served as a teacher of math in both high school and college contexts, as well as a teacher of graduate students in education. And now, she is offering support to some of our students at Rutgers Prep. 

“My heart is in sharing what I know…  I loved the feeling that I had, as a teacher, of ending every day with a feeling of having made a difference in at least one person’s day. Teaching is just part of who I am, now. My kids used to say “Mom, you’re shouting,” and I would respond, ‘No, I’m just projecting.’

I taught in the grad ed program at the College of Staten Island, and I also helped with the remedial math program at Middlesex College, which is essentially focused on elementary school math skills.

I live in Somerset, and I retired in 2013 in the face of needing a hip replacement, but teaching is just in my blood, and after the surgery I picked back up with teaching in some form or another, including working with my own grandkids.

Eventually I reached out to Dr. Loy to say, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

As a result of that initial contact and several subsequent conversations, Ms. Goldstein now works on campus several days a week with a few fourth and fifth grade students, all of whom have been referred to her by Rutgers Prep faculty. She is pleased to report that her experience has been a positive one:

“I have found this to be one of the most welcoming professional environments I’ve ever experienced. The teachers invited me to come in and watch them teach so that I could have a sense of what I would be building off of, and I mean… a teacher ASKING to be observed is pretty much unheard of!

The students seem very relaxed, and to me one of the most important things to nurture is their self-confidence.

Someone once said to me ‘a child’s self confidence is a sacred trust,’ and I really took that to heart. It seems fundamentally true to me, so I am less worried about how much math they learn… if I can inspire them to love learning, and help them hold onto and build that confidence that they are capable of learning, then that’s a good day.”

Rutgers Prep fourth grade teacher Samantha Withum shared, “Barbara is patient and kind and greets our students with a smile. She uses her knowledge and experience and finds fun ways to reinforce basic foundational skills and also strategies to assist the students with the current topic in the class,” while fifth grade teacher Colleen Vinchur added, “Her valuable time and knowledge has been a huge resource to all!” 

Smiling in anticipation of her next appointment with a Rutgers Prep student, Mrs. Goldstein said, “If a kid goes home after 45 minutes and feels a little better about themselves as a learner, then I’ve done my job.” Rutgers Prep is fortunate to have trusted volunteers like Mrs. Goldstein working in partnership with our faculty; any of her pupils would surely agree!