Summer Break Ceases

Posted on August 22, 2011

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Today’s post will be a short and sweet one about that favorite topic, me.

Summer comes to a grinding halt whenever I decide to put my head on the pillow tonight.

For   you see, tomorrow morning I begin work at my new school. Fahari Academy Charter School,  housed inside of MS 246, the Walt Whitman School.

Fahari is the Swahili word for PRIDE, and I will enter tomorrow unlike any other school year ever. I’ve not met the staff or attended any professional developments to know how the people are, or what the expectations and norms are. I’ve not met the students, or have any genuine idea of who they are. I’ve little idea for what my job will entail, as the position I was just offered last Friday is a brand new one, at an infant school entering its third year. I have an idea of how everything will play out, and let’s say my assumptions of what the place will be are less than stellar, but I was offered a job, and it is hard to say no when, “you’ve knocked on a million doors, then you come to one that is open and they say come in.”

As I write about education this year, I hope to do so more objectively, and more constructively. This will be the fourth school in five years that I have taught in. If you count my time as an after school teacher, then you can put that figure at six schools in six years. Crazy. I think I’ve seen a fair amount of what works, across the board, no matter the skill of the teacher, and I’ve seen a lot of what sucks. I’ll be brushing off the old books of Dewey to talk about education in the twenty first century, and what sort of on the ground changes need to be made to accommodate for our new age students.

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In other news, the weekend was spectacular. We began the day with a walking trip through the beautiful woods and fields of Prospect Park to the Grand Army Plaza Green Market. We loaded up on the late summer abundance of veggies, succulent fruits, and some great ideas to test our culinary skills throughout the week.

Saturday mid-morning Zuly and I visited the Jane Bailey community garden for some outdoor yoga. It was great to lay in the grass in a nook of a community garden wedged between two towering apartments building.

There was a nice mix of people in the small class, and I think the best moment was when a group came in to tour the garden, as I was standing just inside the entrance, twisting to open up my hips and back and focusing on my breathing and inner being.

(image courtesy of http://www.nyrp.org/)

Then we shot home, grabbed a snack, and hopped back on the subway to the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy for some free kayaking in the East River.

It was a hot day, so being on the water was nice, and we got some very unique deep in the wave views of the Manhattan skyline. I had the chance to talk with a few of the volunteers, and will hopefully be taking a school group out there soon.

(image courtesy of http://www.gonetonewyork.com/).

Finally, we went home and made some egg salad sandwiches and grabbed some of the beautiful, slightly sour yellow plums that make the face cringe, but ooze with juice straight down the chin. On the train again, this time headed south to the Coney Island stop to take in the Brooklyn Cyclones; the single A farm team for the New York Mets.

Rather than pay for some cheap bleacher seat, we got lucky and a guy handed us two tickets for free (with a free cap voucher) as we stood in line. We redeemed our cap voucher to both be rocking the hometown hats, chose the seats closer to the first base side than what our tickets were listed for, and settled in for a great evening on intimate baseball with all the gimmicks and
gadgets that minor league baseball has to offer. The backdrop was the amusement park crowded to the brim, and a nice breeze coming off the water. I caught a shirt tossed during a half inning, and walked away spending ten dollars on a beer and snack, cheaper and better than the movies.

(image courtesy of http://www.hawktails.com)

Sunday was slower, with the severe storms threatening. The main attraction, after a nice breakfast, another long walk in the park, some looking at photos of Zuleica’s newborn niece, and trying to figure out if we should kayak or go check out a museum, we settled on the mobile exhibit Rethink NYC. The exhibit (from their website http://bmwguggenheimlab.org/)  is a sparse and thoughtfully designed space that is, ” Led by international, interdisciplinary teams of emerging talents in the areas of urbanism, architecture, art, design, science, technology, education, and sustainability, the Lab addresses issues of contemporary urban life through programs and public discourse. Its goal is the exploration of new ideas, experimentation, and ultimately the creation of forward-thinking solutions for city life.”

We played the game Urbanology, where we moved artistic game pieces and engaged with dialogue over issues of sustainability, lifestyle, wealth, livability, health, transportation, and on. As a small collective, we voted on prompted questions, discussed the pros and cons of a prompt such as this: Would you close down one lane of a major street to create space for outdoor seating for cafes and restaurants? We discussed, we saw how our choices compared to all others who had voted in the game, and in the end, we saw how our decisions ranked and were similar to actual cities throughout the world. A very progressive day to say the least. In some ways, I wish I would have gone to school for urban planning, but growing up a country boy in rural Ohio, I didn’t even know such a thing existed.

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