Acacia Graddy-Gamel '03

New York City, Teacher's Aide

Acacia Graddy-Gamel

So you’re a sixth-grade teacher in the Bronx, and you try something new in your classroom that works so well you want to shout about it from the rooftop to all the other teachers in the city. Acacia Graddy-Gamel '03 will provide the megaphone.

“Teachers find the best practices by communicating with one another, by trying things out and sharing their experiences,” says Graddy-Gamel, the manager of online learning platforms for the New York City Department of Education. “But it’s really hard to do that across schools.”

"We’re doing things that not many other people are doing.”

Her job is to oversee the virtual community that connects them all. Using WeTeachNYC, an online portal, teachers can communicate more directly with one another and with administrators, and they can find professional training and other resources. When the city’s universal pre-kindergarten program, Pre-K For All, launched in fall 2014, the portal made training available for 5,000 teachers, preparing them to screen students for developmental delays, English proficiency, and giftedness. “We’re doing things that not many other people are doing,” Graddy-Gamel says, “and we’re doing it at a scale that no one else is.”

Graddy-Gamel previously worked at Columbia University's Center for New Media Teaching and Learning. Along the way, she earned a master's degree at Teachers College. She started at the Department of Education in 2012, making videos of some of the citiy's best teachers at work in their classrooms.

The move from familiar world of videos to the less familiar world of the Internet didn't worry her, through her undergraduate studies—film, literature, history, and religion—were a far cry from computers. Graddy-Gamel explains, "The overall intellectual attitude of Sarah Lawrence is that if you don't know something, you're absolutely equipped with the skills to go and teach yourself how to do it."