I am most proud of and gratified by the former students who have become my colleagues -- experienced and dedicated educators in their own right -- professional adults who are working in some of the toughest schools and contexts in Philadelphia and other cities around the country including Boston, New Orleans and New York.
One of the projects I am working on in the nascent stages of my retirement is some sort of collaborative project that enables me to collaborate with my former students to share our collective knowledge of inquiry-based teaching and learning, multi-disciplinary and writing intensive curricula and critically oriented pedagogy with other educators striving to make a difference in the lives of urban ( and rural - see Pamela Hampton-Garland and her program collegeforeveryone.com ) youth.
I see this a our way of addressing the deleterious effects of NCLB legislation on these particular groups of young people -- the skills-based, test-driven remediation model of teaching that further alienates young people who are already convinced that school has nothing to offer them.
A couple of days ago, I put out the call to my former students who are now educators and challenged them to think of ways of working individually and collectively to drive home the efficacy of a rigorous, critically engaged pedagogy that values and builds on the skills, experience and knowledge urban and rural youth bring to the classroom.
Their lives and the work they are doing in the world is proof of the efficacy this approach and can be a powerful counter-narrative to the "scientific" data the forcing to teachers to teach down to their students and driving creative, bright teachers and students from the classroom.
Here is a link to a new blog started by former Gratz/Crossroads alum Carl Tone Jones. ... the start of a legacy.
One factor that seemed to matter the most was that our faculty truly cared about the students they served and that commitment made a difference. For some of us, it really saved our lives. I take that commitment with me on a daily basis when I deal with some of Philadelphia's finest at CEP. When you care, not only about what you're doing but whom you're doing it for, it makes an impression on the students that you serve. I often have teachers who question why my students respond to me with such relevance and respect, and I simply reply, "it's because it's genuine when it comes from me."
So, Mrs. Pincus, I would love to take part in this venture, thanks for the opportunity.
Carl "Tone" Jones