Assistant Director of Windward Teacher Training Program Marsha Finkelstein took a meandering path to Windward, but her interests always aligned with education.
After earning her undergraduate degree in sociology and elementary education, Ms. Finkelstein’s first job opportunity was with the Westchester Department of Family and Children’s Services. There, her focus on early education was fitting, and she found the job both challenging and eye-opening.
Ms. Finkelstein remained in the foster care unit at the Department of Family and Children’s Services until she started her family, shifting her focus for several years to raising her children. When she returned to the workforce, she opened a travel consulting business, which she ran for 10 years. “Ultimately,” she shared, “I found it less fulfilling than working with children. So, I enrolled at Manhattanville College to pursue my master’s in education.”
Ms. Finkelstein credits an insightful and supportive mentor in the program for encouraging her to apply to Windward as an assistant teacher. She explained, “Course work at Windward offered more strategies and foundational knowledge than I ever could have gotten solely through grad school.” She began at Windward as an assistant teacher for seventh grade, and, after one year of training, assumed lead teaching responsibilities. The following year, she moved to fifth grade, an age group she took great delight in teaching. She shared, “Working with Windward students at this developmental stage made every day joyful, despite any challenges.”
Gradually, Ms. Finkelstein gravitated toward facilitating the process of training teachers in Windward's methodology, first as an Assistant Teacher Staff Developer, then as a Language Arts Coordinator, and finally as Assistant Director of the Teacher Training Program. “I’d never thought I would want to leave the classroom,” she said. “But I realized that I could impact so many more students through developing meaningful and productive relationships with teachers and supporting their learning.”
Under Ms. Finkelstein’s direction, the Summer Intensive Program took on increased importance and became the capstone of the first-year assistant program. She also became an IMSLEC Certified Teacher and, in 2013, was awarded the Greenbaum Stone Master Teacher Award.
Ms. Finkelstein expressed gratitude for the opportunity to work with colleagues who are hard-working, never defeated, and always looking for another Windward strategy to successfully develop a skill for a child. “I truly believe that my role rests on the shoulders of very dedicated Staff Developers in each division and our school’s leadership that whole-heartedly embraces our mission." She continued, “I have deeply appreciated working closely with Sandy Schwarz and have benefitted from her guidance and encouragement, as well as the daily support of Kim McCrea. And I can’t imagine doing my work without the tremendous support of Betsy Duffy, Lindsay Kennedy, and the language arts coordinators as well as our WI, DEIB, and tech teams.”
Ms. Schwarz shares these sentiments, noting, “Marsha’s incredible energy and passion has supported the creation of a nationally recognized professional development program of excellence. Her determination to ensure that every new member of the Windward faculty feels respected and welcomed has enhanced the inclusive culture of our school.
Betsy MacDermott-Duffy added, “A longstanding and integral member of the Language Arts team, Marsha exemplifies the dedication, expertise, and hard work that goes into every teaching and supervisory position at the School.”
Lindsay Kennedy shared, "A teacher’s teacher, Marsha always brought her compassion and firm belief in the innate abilities of others to bear in every professional interaction.”
In her retirement, Ms. Finkelstein and her husband Lou plan to visit their son and his family in California and relocate to Boston to be closer to their other children living in that area.