ESU’s Dr. Yarmus on His Passion For Teaching

Dr. Yarmus talking to a student during one of his classes.
Photo Credit / Kelly Dildine
Dr. Yarmus talking to a student during one of his classes.
Photo Credit / Kelly Dildine

SC Staff Writer

In a small office located on the second floor of Stroud Hall at East Stroudsburg University, I found Dr. Yarmus. Dr. Ruben Yarmus is professionally dressed in a suit and tie, and has a very well kept, clean office. He has funny cartoons about teaching on the wall, and an array of books on how to be the best possible teacher in his bookcase.

When Dr. Yarmus, Education and French professor at East Stroudsburg University, was in high school, he never imagined becoming a teacher or professor of education. He was born and raised in New York City, and started his college education at the University of Michigan with a major in French language and Linguistics.

From there he transferred to NYU and in his junior year he completed a year of study at Sorbonne (the University of Paris,) as part of a junior study abroad program.

Yarmus has had many memorable moments through his college years. When he was at the University of Michigan, he took part in a travel experience with teachers at the then Soviet Union in Russia. A few teachers came to the US from the Soviet Union in July, and university students flew there in exchange. Yarmus says that it was, “very rewarding to discover a different part of the world.”

Studying in Paris has also been very memorable for him, as he was and still is very interested in different languages and the chance to obtain direct experience in a different culture. In addition, when Yarmus was a senior at NYU he participated in what was called the Bail Reevaluation Project.

This project was for people who were put in prison, but weren’t guilty and could not post bail. This group went to city prisons off campus and would have to present solid proof to the judge that the people being charged were innocent. Yarmus claimed this helped him choose a career path because he wanted to go into law, but after that, he changed his mind.

When asked what sparked his passion then for teaching, Yarmus answered, “teaching did.” After he graduated from NYU, he went back to Paris and got a position teaching foreign language and greatly enjoyed it. Afterwards, he went back to school to get his teaching requirements and certification.

Yarmus says that the best part of teaching is a good bond between the teacher and students centered around a mutual interest for the content and also helping students reach their full potential in a career they are really interested in.

He says there isn’t really a worst part of teaching, but the biggest challenge is all of the work that goes into preparing lessons. Teachers are “always on.” He believes he is being the best at his job when he shares relevant experiences to the topics at hand that are being discussed in class. Graduate student Aimee Alfonso says, “He is able to efficiently clarify things when someone asks for help.”

In regards to becoming a professor at East Stroudsburg University, Yarmus says, “I retired from the School District of Philadelphia after more than thirty years of service as a teacher, department head, assistant principal, and district administrator for high schools.” He came to East Stroudsburg because he wanted new opportunities and the experience to guide aspiring teachers and principals in a second, continued profession.

One of the most discussed topics in education today is President George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind.” When asked how he felt about the topic, Yarmus replied with both positive and negative feedback.

He says NCLB is a good thing because it has brought awareness to sub populations and English language learners as well as ethnic minority students and how they are doing in schools because progress evaluations on the students need to be sent in. He does not like NCLB because he says that testing has become the primary concern. Yarmus says that, in the past decade, there has not been any sort of significant upward change in learning or a decrease gap between the performance of high achieving groups and low achieving groups.

He points out that a statistic to remember is that in the United States, one student drops out every twelve seconds, and therefore NCLB has not resulted in a higher success rate.

Yarmus believes that the most concerning aspects of public education today include an over importance factor on tests and a lack of concern for testing in public schools which causes a “watered down curriculum.”

He believes that teachers do need to evaluate students so districts can record student’s progress, but the idea of national testing and end of high school exams should be considered.

In terms of higher education at Pennsylvania state colleges, Yarmus likes that state colleges offer the chance to receive a credible higher education institution, when other opportunities would not be possible for students who cannot afford private institutions.

As a challenging aspect, he believes that transferring secondary students to colleges or universities could be problematic. Secondary students are sometimes not prepared for college life, and sometimes the university professors are not ready to handle some of the students that attend. He says that professors must take some responsibility allowing students to get adjusted to the new stress and work material so that there is not a high failure and dropout rate, especially for freshmen.

The biggest problem he has seen in colleges is the need for better communication between college departments regarding  events that are happening.

Dr. Yarmus is just one of the more than 300 highly-credentialed faculty who teach at East Stroudsburg University. The university offers a very profound teaching experience for aspiring teachers, including tutoring opportunities and direct hands on experience working with children and young adults. Dr. Yarmus takes his job very seriously and is passionate about teaching and strives to deliver the best experience possible to his students.

East Stroudsburg has been recognized and accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, which is the leading board for commending teachers in the United States.

East Stroudsburg University also holds one of the 600 chapters of Kappa Delta Pi, an international honorary teaching society established in 1911 by Dr. William Bagley. This organization is created to recognize all potential in teachers and provide opportunities for the future, which Dr. Yarmus greatly supports.

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