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Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations. It's wonderful that you, your staff and your children have achieved this milestone--that's the first "congratulations." For those who didn't know any better, you have dispelled the myth that the Brighton kids were incapable of achieving academically.

Next, I find it thrilling that your theme is now "ownership." It tells me that there is a new confidence that those who work at Brighton have the wherewithall to know what is right for the education of your children, and the willingness to strive for it. This is true professionalism and earns the second "congratulations."

That final "congratulations" is for you, Betsy, and your determination to see that kindergarten group through to the end of this part of their journey.

A few months ago, I saw the movie "Freedom Writers" and, aside from the idea that valuing students voices is a key part of education, I hated it. I hated the contemptuous way every teacher except the main character was presented. I hated the idea that the only way to be a really good teacher is to sacrifice your own life. And I hated that this "Mosaic" teacher left the classroom after only having taught one group, and started her "Freedom Writers" organization, instead of sticking around and doing the job day in and day out with one group after another.

The fact that you have decided that you will stay for your "snakes" group even after you've accomplished a great deal and have earned your retirement, tells me that you deserve the highest praise someone in our professions can receive--you're a real teacher!


I'm curious ... why would a meeting with all the teachers to examine data require a circus theme with snacks, brightly colored paper and assigned seats?

I have no professional connection to the education industry -- I work in the non-profit political world.

What you are describing sounds to me like treating the teachers like elementary school students themselves ... rather the opposite of the empowered, self-directed professionals that you claim you're looking for.

I'm an educated professional with years of experience in my field, as I'm sure both you and your teachers are. If someone at my office treated me that way, heads would spin and heads would roll.

Dear mccxxiii,
Thank you for your comment. As an elementary teacher, I am driven by themes. This meeting was a fun gathering to celebrate our success with a serious objective to look at our data. The teachers appeared to enjoy this effort to make this “an event”. Perhaps this is typical of our culture of Southern hospitality to always include refreshments for our faculty meetings. This is a standard practice in my school.

The seats were assigned only to allow the lower grade levels teachers that do not take the state test to sit with the teachers from the testing grades in order for them to gain a better understanding of our accountability. The majority of the teachers were very engaged in the table conversations and I felt they left the meeting with an enhanced understanding of the task before us.

I never meant this as an insult to our profession and I do not believe it was taken in that way. When I first visited Brighton years ago, I struck at how little was done for the teachers. I was determined once I came to the school full time; I would make an effort to give the faculty some much-needed extra attention. This may not go over in a high school, but in a K-8 school it is very appreciated. If I were in a high school setting, I am sure I would not go down the “theme path”. I am sure eyes would roll. However, there was no eye rolling a Brighton that day,


Thank you for your very positive comment and encouraging words. It means a lot, as I know you have spent your career making a difference in NYC and continue to do have great impact as you have retired. I so appreciate the example you have not only for me, but all the other educators who have worked with you.

Interesting blog.
Best wishes
Spanish Teacher
from San Telmo Buenos Aires Argentina

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