Joseph E. Fischgrund served as headmaster of the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in Philadelphia for twenty-one years. He is currently an adjunct faculty member in the online teacher certification program in the education of deaf and hard of hearing students at St. Joseph’s University. Fischgrund also serves as the executive director of the Council on Education of the Deaf (CED), an organization that sets nationally recognized standards for university programs preparing teachers of students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Fischgrund shares with us how education has helped him to pursue his career and offers advice to future educators.

(Photo Courtesy of Joseph E. Fischgrund)

(Photo Courtesy of Joseph E. Fischgrund)

What is the most challenging aspect of teaching in the classroom environment?  

“The most challenging aspect of teaching in the classroom is understanding, being sensitive to and valuing the incredible diversity of today’s students, not only in terms of racial, ethnic and linguistic differences, but in terms of varying learning styles, strengths and talents.”

Do you have any advice for people wanting to enter into the teaching profession?  

“My best advice for people wanting to enter into the teaching profession is to value families — they are a child’s most important resource. Be a team player, one who collaborates with other teachers and associates. No one teacher alone can teach today’s children; and have confidence that teaching indeed makes a positive difference in children’s lives.”

Are continuing education courses beneficial for teachers?

“The best teachers are life-long learners. Professional development is important and it works, how else can a teacher keep up with our rapidly changing world and expanding knowledge base? Online professional development is a new and important avenue for continuing education.”

Do you feel that a master’s degree is necessary in your day-to-day career?

“In today’s standards-based educational environment, a master’s degree is essential, and most states require one (or the equivalent) for permanent teacher certification. Even more important, advanced graduate courses introduce teachers to new perspectives, recent research and up-to-date methods. As an educational administrator for many years, I had a strong preference for master’s level teachers.”

Christina Thompson is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia. Her work can be found at