Marie Manuto-Brown, English
I think teachers are just as nervous/excited about the opening of a new school year as the students are. So I try to
find a smooth way to transition from the freedom of the summer to the busy, structured schedule of the academic
year - some connection to both - for the students as well as for me. The Brooklyn Book Festival was just the thing.
The connection was the Summer Reading Assignment.
Many of our students do not need to be "assigned" summer reading - they're reading all the time anyway. And I found
in checking their Summer Reading Assessment that some of the authors they chose were scheduled to speak at the
Brooklyn Book Festival. That was exciting. Any connections I can make from what we discuss and learn in the classroom to the outside world are exciting. So I made sure to email all my students the Festival schedule and to personally inform students when their summer reading author would be speaking. In my day we would write a letter to a dead author responding to their work. Today students can speak to them in person. It's a beautiful thing.
I did a similar thing at the close of last year with my sophomores. We do literature circles as a final project and students choose a country to examine its literary traditions and its revered authors. Quite a few chose Afghanistan and Khaled Hosseini. Well it just so happened that in June he was doing a book tour of his newest novel which included many visits to Barnes & Noble branches. When I saw he was coming to the Union Square branch I informed all the students who were now familiar with his work. Two of them went, met him, spoke to him at length, and were thrilled to have the opportunity to tell him what they thought of The Kite Runner.
I love when students tell me they found an idea we discussed in class being discussed in the media, or by someone they know, or being verified by something that just happened to them. And, as you know, I think it's important for their families to be involved in making
those connections as well. So reading what the students are reading is really about sharing ideas. And that brings people closer together.
My sophomores are learning about the evolution of the English language and its literary traditions. I ask them to examine the evolution
of their own acquisition of the English language. How did they learn English? They need to ask parents and relatives about their first
English words. And their stories are fascinating. Most of our students come from homes where English is not the primary language.
So their acquisition of the language is froth with humorous tales of mistaken meanings and mispronunciations. We share them and
I became a teacher in 1990 and joined the Tech staff in 2001. It was a joyous day for me, and has been that way most days since. I consider myself "old school." There are serious responsibilities that come with being an adult who students are exposed to every day that go way beyond academic skills and standards. We need to be consistent, kind, and mindful of the drama and the trauma that comes with being a teenager. It is an honor for me to serve Tech students.