Nina Jaffe

Supervised Fieldwork Advisor; Course Instructor

Academic Interests

Critical pedagogy, Language and diversity, World music and arts in service of educational equity

Some of the Values that Shape My Work

Reconnecting to sources that nourish multiple perspectives and inclusive, culturally aware pedagogy is essential to my work as author, storyteller and teacher educator:

A kindersher seychel is oychet a sekhel - “A child’s wisdom is also wisdom” (Yiddish proverb) A life span approach to development in which we view children, adults and ourselves in spiral, ever-evolving phases of growth and possibility.

“Tikoroo nko agyina” - “One head cannot exchange ideas with itself” (Ashanti proverb) True learning is grounded in community and social interactions. Educators need to encourage and provide pathways for collaboration that exist among all participants and stake-holders.

“In every... teacher, there is the voice of the ancient storyteller” - Herbert Kohl (on teaching). Just as we strive to engage children in voicing their ideas so do educators need time and resources to sustain and renew their own unique capacities in helping children reach their highest goals and potential.

Work with Families, Children, Schools, and Communities

Bilingual special education classroom teacher and resource room [Spanish/English] in Upper Manhattan; bilingual special education evaluator; storyteller-in-residence in public schools and community centers; conga player; experimental music and dance performance artist; early childhood music specialist; creative movement specialist in therapeutic residence for children; family outreach and intergenerational programs; clinical supervision in public and independent schools; author presentations and staff development; co-host Scholastic Teacher Radio.

Recent Professional Contributions

Keynote and conference presentations in global literacy and multilingual oral traditions (songs, games, folktales): project director of FEAST: Folklore Education & Storytelling for Teachers; webcast and media projects for the Office of Head Start Dual Language Program at Early Childhood Knowledge & Learning Center online; presenter 92Y Wonderplay Early Childhood Learning Conference; guest performer - “Ghanaian Drumming and Singing” - Center for the Arts, Wesleyan University. Membership in AAHPERD; Author’s Guild; Council for Exceptional Children.

Nina Jaffe presented on 12/8/12:  "Cuentos y comunidad: Storytelling at La Casa Azul Bookstore." [103rd St. bet. Lexington & Park Ave.] -- a multilingual program of "interactive storytelling, bomba y plena and retelling of The golden flower: A taíno myth from Puerto Rico to welcome in the holiday season."  See following some of the "tweets" which Casa Azul staff posted on their Twitter account:
  • Full house this morning @LaCasaAzulBooks - music and children for today's story time!
  • Nina Jaffe brought drums and guïros to share with the kids! #FUN#
  • The Golden Flower by Nina Jaffe -- beautiful story about the creation of the island of Puerto Rico!
  • Thank you Nina for sharing a beautiful story with us! We loved learning about the creation of #Borinken
  • To close storytime - we will sing a song in the Taino language!
On November 16, 2012, Nina Jaffe presented an afternoon breakout session: "Tam ni pú! Tam ni bé!”:  Magic and wonder in children’s songs, games and folklore" - with Latin jazz percussionist Asher Delerme [MS. LADC] at the 92YWonderplay Conference 2012: Upholding the Core Principles of Early Childhood: Building a Strong Foundation for Life Long Learning - showcasing "participatory repertoire of African Caribbean, Sephardic and taíno traditions to enrich and support cultural competence, dual language learning and social-emotional well-being in the early childhood classroom." Here is some informal feedback, received from participants:
  •  "It was an amazing experience for me! Thank you.." 
  • "...I enjoyed your energy and way of teaching!"
  • "Thanks so much, the workshop was great!"

Educational Background

  • M.S.Ed., Bilingual Special Education, Bank Street College of Education
  • B.A., World Music and Education, Wesleyan University

Selected Publications and Presentations

  • Jaffe, N. (2011). Sky bear’s gift: A native american tale. Highlights High Five, January, 6-9.

  • Jaffe, N. (2005). The golden flower: A taíno myth from Puerto Rico. Illus. E. O. Sánchez. Houston, TX: Arte Publico Press.

  • Jaffe, N. (2004). I am Wonder Woman: The contest. Illus. B. Caldwell. New York: Harper Collins.

  • Jaffe, N. (2001). Patakín: World tales of drums and drummers. Illus. E. Eagle. Chicago: Cricket Press.

  • Jaffe, N. (2000). Storytelling and folk narrative in classroom life. In N. Nager & E. K. Shapiro (Eds.), Revisiting a progressive pedagogy: The developmental-interaction approach (pp. 161-178). Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

  • Jaffe, N. (1998). The way meat loves salt: A Cinderella tale from the Jewish tradition. Illus. L. August. New York: Holt.

  • Jaffe, N. (1997). A voice for the people: The life and work of Harold Courlander. New York, NY: Holt.

  • Jaffe, N. (1997). The mysterious visitor: Stories of the prophet Elijah. Illus. E. Savadier. New York: Scholastic.