Archive | profiles

Teaching A Literary Life

  Shy teenagers with peanut allergies fill Ajaka Roth’s classroom, alongside demigods and vampires, lost boys and child wizards. Roth knows them all intimately – they’re characters from the books that perch in brightly colored baskets lining the walls – and she also knows that eventually they’ll jump off the page for her 6th grade  Read more »

Turning Doubt into Strengths

A little over a year ago, Dwight Peters was on the verge of flunking out of Bronx Community College. “I felt like a piece of crap,” he said with a tired tone in his voice, reminiscent of the weariness he felt at the time. Then, he found inspiration in an unlikely place for a potential  Read more »

Beyond Textbooks and Test Scores, Reaching the Whole Student

Beyond Textbooks and Test Scores, Reaching the Whole Student

One recent Monday morning, in the small classroom where Evelyn Vargas teaches in P.S. 24 in Brooklyn, a group of excited first graders were jumping up and down, thoroughly caught up in a ball game called hot potato. While music played, the children passed a ball to each other. As soon as the music stopped,  Read more »

Her Own Immigrant Past Helps an Assistant Principal Reach Out to her Students

  It was past dismissal time on a late afternoon at Manhattan International High School and Assistant Principal Gladys Rodriguez wanted to go home just as badly as the students, but there were two boys in her office who were not speaking. They were usually friends, but a disagreement in class had reduced them to  Read more »

Training a New Generation of Parents to be Leaders

Training a New Generation of Parents to be Leaders

It’s almost 6:45 p.m. and Josh Karan, 59, paces back and forth in a room at Columbia University Medical Center, reminding parents that they need to arrive on time so the course can start promptly. They have roughly two hours to review the situation of District 6, which includes northern Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood.  Read more »

Teaching the Teachers for America

Teaching the Teachers for America

Just before 8 a.m. on a recent Thursday, as 25-year-old David Nitkin prepared to teach his eighth-grade humanities course at Bronx Mathematics Preparatory School, his mentor David Greene had already found something that annoyed him. Greene peered over his glasses at a collage of vocabulary worksheets taped over the classroom windows. Stapled over those sheets,  Read more »

‘Sometimes Your Vision Is Bigger’: A Teacher Trains to Lead His Own School

‘Sometimes Your Vision Is Bigger’: A Teacher Trains to Lead His Own School

Reginald Higgins, an aspiring principal and former elementary school teacher, works with a student at P.S. 66 in the Bronx. (Photography by Jason Alcorn)   Last spring, when the fifth graders at P.S. 45 in Bushwick began to anticipate starting middle school, their literacy teacher Reginald Higgins introduced his favorite book, “First French Kiss.” “When people  Read more »

Ramona Brito: “Patient, hopeful, and expectant”

Ring, ring.  Ramona Brito lightly tapped the bell on top of her desk last Monday morning.  With that, her first grade students at P.S. 24 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn jumped into action, putting away their sight-word Bingo games. “Uno…” Twenty-six pairs of little feet scurried to the reading corner. “Dos…” They plopped down in four  Read more »

Accidental Middle School Teacher Got an Early Lesson in Flexibility

Accidental Middle School Teacher Got an Early Lesson in Flexibility

For sixth graders, it’s hard to imagine a worse class to have right after lunch than reading. On a recent Monday afternoon, 18 of them streamed into Becky Song’s second-floor classroom at World Journalism Preparatory School in Flushing for Song’s 7th-period reading class immediately following their lunch hour. Song—a 27-year-old Korean American with straight black hair, dressed in  Read more »

‘The Only Social Worker That’s Teaching’

“I have no life now,” says one teacher and the heads start to nod around him. Democracy Prep Harlem, like many charter schools, is full of young, ambitious teachers like 27-year-old Richard Irvan, the lanky, light blonde exclamation point of a man and global literacy teacher whose wardrobe comes straight from the pages of Esquire.  Read more »