As I approach my 100th post (this is my 96th) I thought I would take a moment to reflect on the impetus for undertaking this little endeavor in the first place, which was to celebrate and share my journey as a teacher. And I am not alone in feeling a great joy and pride in what I honestly equate to as a ‘calling’. There are countless teachers across this country and the world who could not imagine spending their time doing anything else. Exhausted, disrespected teachers still manage to muddle through all of the political muck to find an overwhelming sense of fulfillment in helping others learn.
On Thursday, January 31, 2008 I was fortunate to celebrate with a group of dedicated professionals as they completed the rigorous 18 credit Hello Friend/Ennis William Cosby Certificate Program at the Lincoln Center Campus of Fordham University in New York City. You can learn more about the Hello Friend/Ennis William Cosby Foundation here.
The 28 men and women celebrating that night represented the 7th Cohort of teachers receiving scholarships to teach “Young Readers at Risk”. These are children with learning differences such as dyslexia who often fall through the cracks of the educational system. In training educators to look for and understand a child with a learning difference those teachers can in turn make a ‘difference’ in the life of a child.
This notion becomes even more touching and real when it is given a personal touch. When we read the struggles of Ennis himself, when educators share how they had previously missed an opportunity to reach a child because they did not have the necessary knowledge but have now gained it as a result of the scholarship and when we are told of the thousands of lives that have been touched as a result of this program.
Graduation ceremonies seem to breed these sorts of inspirational speeches.
And then there are the other speeches. On January 31st the ‘other’ speech was delivered by me and my friend and colleague Cayne. We are both former Cosby Scholars ourselves (I love that title), Cayne was in Cohort 1 and I was in Cohort 3. Cayne and I teach the practicum course which prepares and oversees the twice weekly tutoring sessions. We decided to present a speech that evening that was both humorous and touching with a little witty banter bouncing back and forth between us. And with the aid of Cayne’s lovely wife Vanessa, who sat through our rehearsal and provided valuable feedback (thanks Vanessa!), I think we pulled it off.
Here is the opening, written and delivered by Cayne…
I think I speak for Gary and I when I say that we would like to begin with an apology for the following speech. You see due to the current writer's strike Gary and I were forced write and prepare our own material this year.
My bits were all smiles and energy while his were informative and clever. But our main message was to send a great, big BRAVO to the graduates.
And the good news is that there will be a Cohort 9!
If you are a NYC public school teacher interested in teaching struggling readers please come to one of the open houses. You can click on the advertisement on the left to see the information more clearly.