Linda Altman, a graduate of the Lesley Class of 1957, characterizes her alma mater as “a university of total excellence.”
Linda Altman says she is even more proud of Lesley today than when she graduated to become a teacher in the Garden City public schools.
Reflecting on her Lesley education, she recalls that growing up on Long Island, New York, she always wanted to be a teacher. “My high school guidance counselor recommended Lesley as a good teaching college,” she recalls. Upon visiting, she fell in love with Lesley. “It was so close knit — with wonderful teachers. And the whole atmosphere in Cambridge was so intellectually stimulating.”
Altman immersed herself in her studies, which involved plenty of observation and hands-on practice in local elementary schools. “The best way to learn how to teach is to see different styles,” she says. “Then, you can decide which work best and how you’d like to implement them in your own classroom.” In the 1950s, Linda remembers that “Lesley taught very innovative approaches for the day — like taping students and playing things back in class. We also took child psychology courses and visited different centers that taught children with disabilities. Lesley was definitely a very forward-thinking place.”
Once out in the work world, Linda found that her degree opened doors. “As they are today, back then Lesley teachers were highly regarded,” she recalls. “Wherever I applied, they readily welcomed Lesley graduates.” Following graduation, Altman returned to New York and taught elementary school in Garden City before staying home to raise three daughters.
Now a grandmother of eight, living in Westchester County, New York, Linda Altman is an active volunteer. She serves on the board at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and works with a local Jewish foundation to help under-resourced women develop self-confidence and self-esteem. With her husband, Earle, a New York City real-estate developer, she is also a patron of Carnegie Hall.
Through the years and the distance, however, Lesley has remained close to Linda’s heart. She’s been a faithful and generous contributor the University’s Annual Fund. “I want to do what I can to help make this a better world. Teachers are mentors to future generations of our children,” she explains. “We need to support education, and Lesley turns out very good teachers. I support Lesley because I want to make sure they continue to graduate the best teachers — not just those who are the most intelligent, but also those who are the most passionate about teaching.”
Linda Altman is impressed by her alma mater’s continued excellence in teacher preparation and a growing number of other fields. “I love the way Lesley has expanded over the years — becoming co-ed, adding the arts, dance, and all of the graduate programs,” she says. Lesley kept hold of what it was good at and has built on those strengths. Now, I think Lesley University is definitely on the map. And I want to make sure we keep expanding that map, with the help and support of Lesley alumni.”Fall 2012
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