“Go forth and set the world on fire.”

St. Ignatius School, Bronx NY

It was a match made in heaven. Perhaps quite literally. The small, Jesuit-run Middle School in the South Bronx was looking for an 8th Grade ELA teacher and the incredibly gifted, natural born teacher with a resume 99% of the world would envy was looking for his first classroom. In August they met and this Wednesday will be their first day of school together.

This past month has been incredibly busy, full of excitement and perhaps a soupcon of nervousness for Jim. After two years of subbing and one extended leave replacement, he finally gets his own classroom. The setting seems ideal. St. Ignatius is a small school with 90 students. Supported almost entirely by private donations, they have a new school building (2006) and a dedicated staff. The classes are divided by gender and all of the children wear uniforms. The school is essentially tuition-free, but parents sign a contract requiring attendance and involvement. This is a school for kids from difficult backgrounds who want to succeed academically and head towards college. 97% of the students are Hispanic and the balance are African-American. Facts about Hunts Point, South Bronx and St. Ignatius (SIS):

  • The poorest of the 435 U.S. congressional districts
  • 49% of Hunts Point families live in poverty compared to 23% national average
  • 100% of SIS students graduate high school compared to local rate of 40%
  • 90% of SIS grads enroll in college compared to 37% of their local peers

As you can imagine this is a very mission-driven organization.

Jim will be teaching two classes, one male and one female, for a total of 22 students. He will have them for double periods which means they can really dig deep into their curriculum. He had the freedom to choose his own texts and much of August was spent considering the books he would like to teach.

This past week was a mix of days spent setting up his classroom and meeting with the administration and staff of SIS. Weeks ago Jim began assembling materials to make his classroom both warm and inviting and also clearly a place of learning. He has arranged the desks in a circle so the students can interact. The white board is in the front of the classroom and his interactive Smart Board is in the back. The students can switch their desks easily between focal points.

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The classroom was dirty and pretty empty when he started. Now it is filled with visual interest and bright colors.

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Good help is essential!

Peter had a chance to see the school and meet his father’s new colleagues one day. Together they affixed tennis balls to the legs of each desk. Next up will be coasters for the chair legs. Good protection for the teacher’s tender ears and a dis-incentive to rambunctious desk re-positioning. They look like alien desks ready for landing.

My own colleagues have been engaged in this process as well. Classroom libraries and access to books are of passionate interest at Scholastic. Jim’s classroom library is the envy of the other teachers as the shelves are filled with brand new Club editions of current offerings.

 

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All these boxes for the new guy!

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Bright and irresistible brand new books!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are all excited and proud to see Jim embark on this new adventure. While it is clear that he has so much to give and was always destined to be a teacher, it will be even more rewarding to see all that he receives. I think it will be difficult to tell who comes out the richer for this experience.

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2 Comments to ““Go forth and set the world on fire.””

  1. Thanks Jenny, and Congratulations to Jim;

    They are lucky kids to be taught by him, and I know he will enjoy it too. So good to hear from you.

    We will all be in NY {Beau, Angelique and me} as well as Paul O’Dell our WEBMASTER the first week in Nov. We are staying at the Essex House Nov. 1-10 or 12. Not sure how long we will need to be there.

    First Beau and I are going to Germany and Prague for two weeks and then into NY. Please call me and lets set a day to get together.

    All is well here and I hope all is well with you.

    Love Always,

    Kathy

  2. Boy is this exciting news. Jim and his class willbe in my prayers. Teaching is just the best but it is hard work! He will be so busy but his room and supplies are WONDERFUL It will be great for him and his students! Yea Yea yea
    Dawn

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