A memoir that debunks the clichés and reveals the real world of inner-city students and teachers: “Charming and raw in its honesty.” —Publishers Weekly
We all know the stories of the righteous and charismatic hero teacher who charges headfirst into dysfunctional inner city schools like a firefighter into an inferno, saving the students with a combination of idealism, empathy, and willingness to put faith in kids who have been given up on by society as a whole. This is not that kind of book.
Instead, Ilana Garon reveals the sometimes humorous, often frustrating, and occasionally horrifying truths that accompany teaching at a public high school in the Bronx today—and how her experience challenged everything she thought she knew about education. The overcrowded classrooms, lack of textbooks, and abundance of vermin and drugs weren’t the only challenges Garon faced. Every day, she’d interact with students such as Kayron, Carlos, Felicia, Jonah, Elizabeth, and Tonya—students dealing with real-life addictions, miscarriages, stints in juvie, abusive relationships, and gang violence. These students also brought with them big dreams and uncommon insight—and gave her a powerful new perspective. In response, Garon—a naive suburban girl with a ponytail, freckles, and Harry Potter glasses—opened her eyes, rolled up her sleeves, and learned to distinguish between mitigated failure and qualified success. In this book, she explains how being a new teacher was about trial by fire, making mistakes, learning from the very students she was teaching, and occasionally admitting that she may not have answers to their thought-provoking (and amusing) questions.
“Gritty and candid.” —Kirkus Reviews
“This irresistible, passionate, hilariously funny look at a young teacher and her surprisingly lovable students lights up the landscape of recent writing about American education.” —Susan Cheever