A Tale of Two Back to School Nights

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Excitement and enthusiasm were in the air as teachers in my new high school in a middle class neighborhood prepared their classrooms by decorating their bulletin boards, displaying student work, and straightening desks. Welcome messages abounded, Remind.com messages were sent, and we opened our doors to meet the parents.
I have done these events for 24 years, four times a year at my former school in South Central L.A. But this year’s Back to School Night left me reflecting, and perhaps shedding a tear.
First, my new parents were fantastic. They were friendly, enthusiastic, and supportive of the new ideas I bring to the school. I knew in them I would have allies to incorporate my findings from my Fulbright exchange in Finland earlier this year. Parent after parent nodded their heads and strongly affirmed that break time was important to students, teachers, and workers in general. They were excited to hear about the summer travel programs I had prepared.
As I looked at their warm and s…

A Bright Spot in Dark Times

Readers might remember the story of Lamar Queen, a talented third year teacher who was RIF'ed last year, and whose musical abilities gained him lots of fans and followers in cyberspace. His story came to represent the tragedy of losing so many young teachers to charters and other professions when the District sent out layoff notices in the spring.

Lamar was one of the few teachers who chose to stay at our school and work as a substitute, in spite of having other options as a gifted math teacher. We are lucky to still have him on staff.

This talented teacher has just completed his first album of math raps, and will be having a release party at Horace Mann Middle School on December 12th, at noon, in the MPR. If you enjoyed his funky Slope Intercept Form rap, or the catchy PEMDAS rap, then you will enjoy the rest of his masterful creations, such as the Quadratic Love Song and Distance Rate Time. The public is invited!!! Copies of the CD and DVD will be available for purchase and autograph.

For those of you who cannot make it, you can visit his new website, musicnotesonline.com and purchase materials there. You can view clips of his new material at the musicnotesonline channel on youtube here. A portion of the sales will go to the continued development of new instructional materials for teachers and to support students in arts instruction via scholarships and other types of support.

In a time where all news seems to be bad news, Lamar Queen's dedication to education and innovation are a bright spot in dark times.

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