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Reform: A Teacher Reflects On Her Experience (& My Book)

image from scholasticadministrator.typepad.com Nicole Soussan taught English at Locke High School from 2006 to 2008, and was kind enough to let me share her reflections on what happened while she was at the school and what's happened there since she left: "Frank Wells hired me to teach at Locke High School after asking me to do one thing: tell him about myself. I'm not sure if it was my degree in African American Studies, my incredible enthusiasm for teaching at Locke, or the fact that he had hired a number of other Teach for America teachers that day, but a few minutes later, I was hired over a handshake. I had no idea then that my life and my job would unfold the way they did."  [continued below]

"Reading Stray Dogs, Saints, and Saviors a few years afterwards, I beamed with pride to know that Ronnie Coleman overheard my students talking about Macbeth and wept when I recalled the May 2008 riot (during which I literally pulled a student away from a police officer striking her with his baton).  I smiled as I could hear my friends and former colleagues make the statements quoted in the book, and I was furious when I read about one of my former students being pepper sprayed. The stray dogs Russo describes were a constant fixture outside my classroom - a temporary building separate from the main structures - and on a couple of ocassions inside my classroom too. Teaching at Locke was extraordinarily difficult, but I saw huge gains in my classroom.  It was fascinating to be on the front lines of the education reform debate. Regardless of readers' opinions on the Locke transformation or the way the story has been told, the book highlights for me why I find education reform so compelling: the need is overwhelming, the politics are substantial, and the solutions are not easy.  And yet, I continue to believe that we may yet make it possible that one day all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education. Thank you, Alexander Russo, for telling Locke's story and continuing to push the conversation."A lawyer in training, Soussan is on Twitter here.
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