OH. My. Goodness. As I sat there talking to the group of teachers, the principal, and the assistant principal, I found myself fighting back tears several times. This is a low-income 56%black, 24%white, and 16%Hispanic populated preK-5 campus. I heard teachers and administrators speaking with passion about teaching kids. The principal (a calm and assertive black man) told me that he and the teachers had just finished a book study about middle class teachers teaching poor black kids. Most of the teachers at the school are white. He told me that he doesn't like to hear candidates haphazardly say "there's no difference". There is a difference and we need to acknowledge it and do what we need to do to educate kids in the middle of it. They've implemented a program of uniforms this year and the teachers participate as well, wearing various colored school t-shirts and different sorts of khaki pants or, I assume, skirts. The teachers talked about it taking an extra level of commitment to teach at this school because there were activities going on after school and on weekends that they participated in with the kids. Most of all, these teachers all looked and sounded happy to be a part of what was going on there. At one point, the principal used the word missionary to describe his teachers. He made it clear that he hires only the best and brightest and that his school is staffed with what he considers to be the finest group of teachers anywhere in the world.
Would it sound racist to say that I felt like I'd stepped into the middle of a living breathing Denzel Washington movie today? I hope not. Because I want to be cast in that movie. So much. I interviewed for the art position. I did my best to let them know that I'm cut from the same cloth as them and that I have the level of commitment to kids and learning that they're looking for. Prayers please. Thanks!
love and grace,
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