Meet Tova Syrowicz, one of Hausner's 4th Grade Assistant Teachers! In this interview, she shares her fascinating journey from working at Google to becoming an educator. Discover what inspires her, her unique teaching philosophy, and a fun fact about her multicultural background.
1. Can you briefly introduce yourself and tell us about your background and experience?
I graduated with a BA in comparative literature from Washington University in St. Louis in 2004. After college, I moved to Florence, Italy where I worked as an au pair, studied Italian, and wrote and edited for The Florentine, the city’s largest English-language newspaper. I then worked for Google as a People Ops programs specialist in London and Hyderabad before returning home to New York in 2008. At that point I was deciding between pursuing a career in magazine publishing and going into education via NYC’s Teaching Fellows program (similar to Teach for America). During high school and college, I had held internships and summer jobs at magazines in Manhattan, and I had also worked at day camps and volunteered as an SAT prep and homework tutor for underprivileged kids. In 2008, I chose the former road and several gigs later became the Travel Editor at Elite Traveler, the in-flight magazine for private jets. My twin girls were born in October 2013, and while I continued to freelance here and there, I shifted my focus to raising them. Now, I’m very excited to have embarked on the road previously not taken.
2. What is your role at Hausner and how long have you been here?
I’m an assistant teacher in 4th grade, and this is my first year as a faculty member at Hausner. It is my third year as a Hausner parent. My daughters, Alicia and Silvia, are in 5th grade.
3. What inspired you to become a teacher/get into your line of work?
I’ve always loved spending time with kids, and teaching feels like a natural extension of that. There are so many informal opportunities for teaching and learning when you’re in the company of children, and those opportunities and the unique ways in which they unfold bring me joy.
4. What do you hope your students will take away from their time in your classroom, both academically and personally?
Growth mindset is a concept that nobody spoke about when I was a kid, and I think it’s such a valuable component of learning today. Mistakes are how we learn. There isn’t one right way to do something. The perfect is the enemy of the good. Get comfortable in the gray. There’s a gap between understanding these ideas intellectually and really integrating them emotionally, and that’s a gap I hope to help narrow.
5. What do you do when you’re not at work?
Well, mostly it’s the stuff of daily life with school-aged kids: Making meals, driving to extracurriculars and the orthodontist, assisting with homework, doing laundry, and getting everyone to bed somewhat on time! In the time that’s left, I like to read, bake, hang out/play with family and friends, go for walks/hikes, write, ice skate, rollerblade, travel (near and far), and read (yes, I like it twice).
6. What do you love most about Hausner?
I love that a strong academic program is just one component of what Hausner offers. At Hausner, students learn to be connected to their past, to engage in and build community, to be mindful of their impact on the world, and to care for others; they learn to be critical thinkers and good people.
Over the summer, I came across the following quote (paraphrased here) in a NY Times article about a Brooklyn private school that had really failed one of its students: “When it comes to supporting kids with learning differences, public schools have the will but not the resources and private schools have the resources but not the will.” I also love that Hausner bucks that trend: It has the will and allocates resources accordingly.
7. Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
I was born in South Africa and lived in Israel, Turkey, and Italy before moving to New York at the age of 12. I don’t have an accent (or not much of one) because I was teased so much about the way I spoke when I moved to the US that I worked hard to speak “American.” My “o” isn’t perfect, so sometimes people think I’m Canadian.
8. What is your favorite Hebrew word or Jewish Holiday?
I have two favorite Hebrew words: savlanut (patience) and balagan (a big mess).