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Rani Pappan, M.A. '13: Destined to Teach

Alumni


Rani Pappan, M.A.
 

Published:

January 14, 2014
Tagged: Ruth S. Ammon School of Education, Learning by Doing: NYC, People Make the Place
 

Rani Pappan, M.A. '13: Destined to Teach

Alumni


 

by Cecil Harris

“Rani has a wonderfully nurturing personality, and has shown a dedication and drive to support all learners within her care.”—Dorothy Phalen

Since Rani Pappan was 4 years old, she knew teaching would be her calling. Perhaps her unusual household habit had something to do with that.

“I used to take all the houseplants and arrange them as if they were students and then ‘teach’ the plants,” Ms. Pappan said with a laugh. “I come from an Indian background, so teaching is sometimes looked down upon. People would say, ‘Be a doctor or a lawyer.’ But I knew from a very young age that I would teach.”

Ms. Pappan enrolled at Adelphi University to pursue her goal of teaching children with special needs. Previously, she had earned a degree in history from the University at Albany.

“The small class sizes and the individual attention at Adelphi were major selling points,” she said.

In Adelphi’s Ruth S. Ammon School of Education, Ms. Pappan found an ideal mentor in Dorothy Phalen, the director of Early Childhood and Early Childhood Special Education. And Ms. Phalen found in Ms. Pappan a young woman destined to become an excellent teacher.

“Rani has a wonderfully nurturing personality, and has shown a dedication and drive to support all learners within her care,” Ms. Phalen said. “I had the opportunity to watch her interactions with young children with special needs, and she impressed me with her ability to establish a genuine rapport with them. She integrated technology into her lessons in a meaningful way and was creative and innovative in all her plans.”

Ms. Pappan, who earned her master’s degree in early childhood and special education in May 2013, had six job offers from which to choose—four at public schools in New York City, one at a Connecticut public school and one home-based teaching position. She chose to teach autistic children at P.S. 224 in the Fresh Meadows section of Queens, New York. 

“When I went there for the interview, I saw that the teachers are very happy there,” said Ms. Pappan, a Queens resident. “It’s the kind of school where teachers stay because they enjoy working there. That’s very important to me.”

Ms. Pappan’s interest in working with special-needs children began in high school when she volunteered for a program that taught people with autism. In the 2013-2014 academic year, she is teaching six autistic children from kindergarten, first grade and second grade.

“When they show difficult behavior, I love being able to figure that out and help them correct that behavior,” she said.

When Ms. Pappan works with her students, she uses TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children), a special education program developed in the 1970s that emphasizes a highly structured and predictable classroom environment and the use of visual learning.

“TEACCH really promotes independence for children,” she said.

So does Ms. Pappan, who is likely to make a substantial difference in the lives of many children and their families.

 
Tagged: Ruth S. Ammon School of Education, Learning by Doing: NYC, People Make the Place
 
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