Monday, March 19, 2007
Many eighth-grade teachers are addicts.
JoAnn Rintel Abreu, 40, an English and social studies teacher at Seth Low, [a large intermediate school in Bensonhurst,] graduated with a masters’ degree in English literature, the “bare minimum” teaching requirements and glorious visions of turning high school students on to Shakespeare and Chaucer. She was offered a middle school job first.Elissa Gootman, "For Teachers, Middle School Is Test of Wills," in today's NYT.
Now, after 16 years at Seth Low, Mrs. Abreu takes great satisfaction in trying to figure out how to reach adolescents. The rewards come with breakthrough moments, like when a sullen eighth grader who rarely does his homework handed in a bitterly descriptive, beautifully written memoir about his father’s new girlfriend, “the witch.”
“Middle school is like Scotch,” she reflected in the teachers’ lounge one afternoon. “At first you try to get it down. Then you get used to it. Then it’s all you order.”
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