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Banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories an hour. > Research > Jello and Other things…PART TWO (08-22-02)
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Jello and Other things…PART TWO

A. B. H.
07.31.02-Da’ Bronx, NY
Subj: -none-
Date: Wed, 31 Jul 2002 8:35:35 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: A. B. H.

Hey everyone,
TFA Institute is in it’s last week, and I’m here to tell the story. Some advancements since I last typed:I have a job! I’ll be teaching 6th grade English and Reading at a middle school in the Bronx. Read Amazing Grace by Jonathan Kozol and you’ll get an idea of the Bronx and the problems that face its children.
I’m really excited about the age group, unlike most I actually wanted middle school. And my reading class is called “Novel.” How great is that?
The best part, though, and the truly shockingly perfect part, is that the school I have been placed in is a Roots and Shoots school. Roots and Shoots is a program begun by none other than Jane “the bomb” Goodall! As in, the anthropologist who lives with chimps in Tanzania, as in one of the world’s great social justice and environmental activists, as in the woman I have idolized for many, many a year now! There are over 3000 Roots and Shoots schools in 68 different countries throughout the world, and only 2 in the US. And I got placed in one of them! Um, can anyone say big fat fabulous coincidence? or perhaps fate?
The program is all about creating responsible citizens who care about their environment and world. This program has only been in my school for a year now, so it’s very new and a lot of the curriculum has yet to be implemented (it’s all still pretty theoretical), but that means that I get to be a part of building it. Also, most of the kids are coming in far below grade level, so it’s going to be a big freakin’ challenge. Which, you know, is why I’m doing this.

In not so good news, Ms. Rodriguez, the teacher who normally has our class (think hairy moles and coffee breath), and who is required to sit in and observe us every day, as it turns out, is a living nightmare. She made Elmer cry the other day basically just because she felt like it. As she gets more comfortable with the three of us, she has managed to rip on the intelligence and the right to live of the following groups of people: gays, dominicans, mexicans, africans, muslims, asians, and ‘retards’ (as she refers to most of our children). The only reason she no longer hits her students across the face is because it’s illegal (she has drawn blood before, and is proud of it).
She walked into class today and said in front of all the students, “I can’t wait to get out of here. I’m so sick of all the kids, the building, the other teachers, all of it.” Tim, Judy and I just put up with it and laugh at all her stories because for some reason she actually likes us and is nice to us, and if she didn’t, she would do everything in her power to make our time here hell, of that I am sure.
To make matters worse, the principal at our school is the male version of Ms. Rodriguez, so there is little to be done about it. She’s been working for 25+ years and is therefore tenured, so basically can’t lose her job. I am infinitely sad to see one of the biggest obstacles to the success of these kids take the shape of a teacher, an educator, a role model, a leader.

But, in spite of Ms. Rodriguez:
Soledad is well on her way to crawling out of her shell and leaving it behind to bake in the noonday sun.
Edwin learned remainders quicker than I could bat an eye. Is anyone really surprised?
Elmer says yellow instead of jello a good 50% of the time.
Socrates, oh Socrates, that smile will send you soaring with some and hold you back with others. I wish I could be there to tell everyone of the potential it holds.
Tim, Judy (my co-teachers), and I positively GET ALONG. I might actually miss them a little. A little. And, I now have contact information of the more permanent variety. I broke down and got a cell phone (damn this new york lifestyle)
I got an apartment in Washington Heights (north of Harlem in Manhattan). I’ll be living with this dude Chardo, a friend of my brother’s who did TFA in ‘99 and is still teaching in the Bronx, which will be nice for me.

Call, Write, Visit.
love, A. B. H.

-Proir Objects
07.13.02 Jello and Other things…PART ONE

-Musical Context
Gangsta’s Paradise Coolio-circa 1995

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