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Michael Barthel G’17 on Drew University’s Master of Arts in Teaching Program

“Drew has a well-known MAT program. I knew my training would be the best I could get.”

May 2023 – Drew University’s Caspersen School of Graduate Studies Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) cultivates tomorrow’s educators through a clinically rich program that blends university coursework with practical field experience. 

We spoke with MAT alum Michael Barthel G’17 about his time at Drew and how it prepared him for his current role as an English and theatre teacher at West Morris Mendham High School in Mendham, New Jersey.

Barthel is a passionate teacher and credits Drew for giving him the education and opportunities to advance in his career. Read on to learn more.

Why did you choose Drew’s MAT program?

I chose Drew because of its location. New Jersey is one of the best states for education and is close to New York City. It’s also the best place for education in terms of being able to teach open-minded people and place myself in a supportive culture of education.

Drew offers an accelerated program, allowing me to get my teaching certification in one year. I was already working in education, and the program allowed me to explore my passion as an educator.

Plus, Drew has a well-known MAT program. I knew my training would be the best I could get. 

How did your Drew education prepare you for your current role?

A Drew education provides you with everything you could possibly need to know in terms of pedagogy. It teaches you how to develop young minds by providing you with the theory and tools you need. And, it carries a lot of weight on your resume—everyone knows that Drew produces great teachers.

The program is masterfully-crafted to model the proper way to educate. Not only do you learn about teaching, but they model the techniques—allowing you to scaffold your learning.

Drew has fantastic connections in New Jersey schools and they do a great job of aligning you with a mentor that fits your passion and career goals and will set you up for a successful placement upon graduation, which is a huge competitive edge. I was placed in a district that was tailored to my strengths, allowing me to show my skills to the administration.

My specialties are in English and theatre, but more importantly, I know how to teach. Drew places you in classroom settings right away, giving you on-the-job preparation.

Why is it a good time to pursue an education in teaching?

I think it’s a good time to pursue a degree in education because it is one of the most challenging times. There is a need for passionate individuals who want to make a difference. They make the best teachers.

Long gone is the old stereotype of “those who can’t do, teach.” I think that’s ridiculous. Now the pressures of becoming a teacher have intensified, which is challenging society to look at teachers in a new way and appreciate us.

If you’re the type of person who wants to do something that matters in life, if you want to make an impact and difference—from a political and sociological standpoint—that’s why you get into teaching. We’re in such unprecedented and challenging times. We need good professionals who care and have a passion to fight the good fight.

Are there other benefits to holding a degree in teaching?

I think it makes you a better overall person. You become a more compassionate and thoughtful person. In order to be a good teacher, you have to be reflective. During Drew’s program, you’re constantly reflecting on your teaching and you learn that critical feedback is not negative—it’s a way for self-improvement and growth. You learn how to communicate better with people and improve patience.

Teaching affords you to help others. You’re better at managing people and it makes you a more intellectual and knowledgeable person because you’re a life-long learner.

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