Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Taking Pride with a Roar - the NWP 2012-2013 SEED Work Continues @writingproject @fairfieldu

Taking Pride

As a wise and respected member of our team, you encourage us to take pride in ourselves and our accomplishments. You remind us to enjoy our achievements. You remind us to enjoy our achievements and help guide us with your strong vision of success.

We're proud you're on our team.

Yesterday, I was invited to Bassick High School's career week by Ellen Rosoff, a counselor dedicating her year to work as a classroom teacher for 9th and 10th graders. Her vision is to bring mindfulness to students, mental health, well-being, and lifelong skills that transcend the boundaries of schools. 

My career platform? Teaching, of course...and the story of becoming an urban educator and a writing project director dedicated to the work of urban schools.

Working alongside another presenter - a nurse - I discussed how the road begins with school; it sets the path towards success. The nurse and I came to the same conclusion, too: it takes perseverance, dedication, and a lot of hard work to get to a comfortable place. This work, we told the students, begins with a lifelong investment in education - one needs to respect knowledge to get by in this world.

Yesterday, Ellen Rosoff presented me with a Bassick High School Lion pin and I couldn't be happier. It is a representation of the dedicated faculty and staff that I've had the honor of working with over the last two years, including Jocelyn D. Ault, Parent Center Coordinator, and Kizzie Gibson, Home School Coordinator, who brought me to the school today.

In 2012-2013, CWP-Fairfield received a NWP Supporting Effective Educator Development grant in collaboration with Bassick High School to provide yearlong support for improving writing instruction across all content areas. Principal Dr. Wayne Alexander, his faculty and I began to chisel away at professional development that mattered to the them. Sadly, our year of collaboration ended quickly, just when the momentum took off. Even so, I was invited back by Dr. Alexander for a second year, rent-a-Bryan, to work with teachers and students to incite writing. The collaborative work between Bassick and Fairfield University, too, was part of the excellence recognized by the New England Board of Higher Education earlier this year. 

It takes the power of many willing to work together to begin tackling the larger societal issues of the United States: this includes the extreme economic disparities in Connecticut.

This is the time of year when public school teachers are desperately looking for zest and spunk to finish the teaching season as strong as they can. Public school educators are expected to do more and more with less and less, even as the needs of young people are on the rise. For this reason, I'm extremely proud for all of those at Bassick High School who continue to commit their time, energy, academics, and support to the 9th-12th graders at the school. I'm also proud of the four students from Bassick High School who successfully participated in a dual enrollment program with Fairfield University - three of whom plan to enter as the class of 2018 next fall.

photo by Kathy Silver, BHS Art Teacher
The district has been through a lot in the last three years and visionaries like Diane Ravitch have noticed (here, and here, as well as here, here, and here). On her blog dedicated to the discussion of better education for all, I'm happy to say, she's agreed that 'teaching is an art.' Listening to teachers, like listening to students, will give the best results.

In an era where public school teachers feel the wrath daily of political rhetoric and decisions (e.g., a botched roll out of Common Core State Standards, poorly designed teacher evaluation systems, hyper-segregating school districts through Charters, etc.) it remains important for those who work closely with public school teachers to articulate the passionate work they do. We need more champions for public schools who are willing to rekindle the mission of democracy in the United States, rather than syphoning off limited resources from our poorest communities to out of town entities and snake oil salesmen.

For this reason, I am cherishing the lion pin given to me. It is a symbol of all the hard work Bassick teachers do each and every day.
It's better to be a lion for a day than a sheep all your life ~ Elizabeth Kenny
These, the words of a nurse who took on the medical field and changed its history forever, should be spoken by every public school teacher currently being undermined by our political system. Although criticized by those with power, Elizabeth Kenny gave rise to what is now known as physical therapy. Solutions are as easy as those revealed in the classic movie, 9 to 5, with Dolly Parton. Those who do the work on the ground have better solutions than those at the top. 

Those in Bridgeport's classrooms do the lion's share of work and deserve more voice. With this pin, I roar with students, parents, faculty, staff, administrators, coaches, mentors, community activists, and dreamers. It's the least I can do.


  1. Bryan, thank you for inspiring our students, for recognizing their gifts and potential and sharing pathways to success.
    Jocelyn Ault, Bassick Parent Center

  2. Dear Bryan,
    Thank you for speaking out on behalf of public school educators, particularly, those of us in the urban districts. It is just nice to know that we aren't alone and that you out there advocating for us. I'm glad you like your Lion pin as it's sentiment is accurate in how I would describe your relationship with us.
    Thanks for speaking to our students yesterday at Career Day and thanks for all the other things you do for Bassick.
    See you soon!