Behind the scenes in the life of a teacher in the Bronx.
With honesty and refreshing straightforwardness, Garon delivers true stories of her time spent in high school classrooms in the Bronx through accounts of her students and personal emails. She places readers on the front lines with her pupils as they navigate rough moments and face difficult decisions in their lives. Some students considered joining gangs, some girls were pressured into sex and then needed to deal with unplanned pregnancies, some struggled to deal with the death of a loved one—through it all, Garon was there to offer advice, support and friendship on whatever terms were accepted by each individual student. She battled the need to teach English with insufficient books while trying to maintain discipline in the crowded classrooms; meanwhile, mice and cockroaches ran all over the school. Fights broke out constantly between gang members and because of rivalries over girls; gun scares were a common issue; and some kids didn’t have the required shoes, so they didn't bother to show up for gym. Along the way, Garon discovered that if you learn to relate to kids on their level, gain an understanding of their backgrounds and tie that to a classroom lesson, then kids are going to learn. Due to poverty and a lack of sufficient, helpful parenting, "students come to school emotionally and physically unprepared to learn…to expect that the students who endure these crises can regularly come to school, quietly sit down at their desks, and turn in their homework without incident…is absurd; the only thing more shocking is that sometimes they actually do manage this herculean task."
A gritty and candid exposé of inner-city teaching.