A Teacher's Day

The day in the life of an inner city large urban school district teacher after the high stakes testing ends and there is still three more months left before summer vacation.

Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

I have taught school for over thirty years always in the inner city and for the most part always upper grade students. I have two children and I have been married for twenty years.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


The 8th grade graduation went smooth as a good drink of cool water after a hard day’s work. Everything was just perfect. The processional, the music, even the two dancers from somewhere else. Mrs. Antoinette Sigler, one of the 8th grade teachers, sang beautifully. The only real drawback was the key note speaker who I have already forgotten.

(Overheard from someone in the audience: If this guy comes next year, I won’t be coming at all.)

Then the 8th grade students took a rose and went to their parents or guardians in the audience and gave it to them. It was wonderful. Enough to bring tears to a wise guy’s eyes. In fact, one of the new LSC (Local School Council) members actually left the gym. “I’m too sensitive,” he said.

Then the graduates sang another song—YOU CAN COUNT ON ME, quite well, to tell the truth, and then we had the special awards.

When I gave the young girl her award (really my mother gave her the envelope—and no one knew who I had picked until I said it—the audience went crazy. Yet even as she fell out of her seat into the hugs of her sisters, I did not see any adults at all. I had heard her grandmother was there—but she never made it inside. Not enough room. And she couldn’t breathe well either. And I could not get any additional verification. How can the parents and/or guardians not come to something this special?

(And it is special. In the neighborhood high school, five hundred students began as freshmen four years ago, but only seventy crossed the stage at their graduation.)

On the stage my mother hugged the winner and I hugged her, too, and her smile was so big, even the dark gym became sunlight flash bright.

Nonetheless, the graduation was very nice—everyone’s comments to my Seymour Brownstein blog were very nice too.

I’m even going to include the comments from TT and Dwight Eastman in this blog.

Anonymous said…

How can we help?


Dwight said…

What a wonderful posting! I am touched by what you give due credit and honor to your father and to your mother at the award ceremony.

Where do I send my contribution to the Seymour Brownstein College Scholarship Fund? Give your answer as a posting so that it can be linked directly and can contain over time the amounts that the fund has grown to.

How plain, tragic and wonderful the work that you do; the world that we all live in.

Dwight said…

Send donations to:

Seymour Brownstein Award
C/O Michael Brownstein
4415 S. King Dr.
Chicago, IL 60653


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Michael,

What would you think of yet
another prize at graduation, or even a sort of relay prize, in greater increments as the year progresses, to those who never exhibit violence and therefore are the most improved. I, as a former Chicago school survivor in the Humboldt Park area, would like to help. Tell me what the best way would be to spend five hundred dollars in order to help your
students. This is not the world, I know, and I am not a rich person by any stretch of the imagination, but I do care.

Rose Fisher

12:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are always thinking of ways to inpire children. Thank you MIchale Brownstein you did it again. Do you know if the other 8th grade students knew about the potential reward? Do you think it would have made a difference or should? The person who got the reward is challenged by her circumstances everyday. I pray that she will be able to keep her head on the goal of 4 years from now.

R Brown

6:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Michael,
The graduation was very touching, sad, inspiring,a wonderment of emotional turmoil. If a graduation class, when I went to school, was short even ten percent it was a great tragedy. I hope you have help, not just money, real help, the type of people who get in the fray the way you do. Your mother must be so proud of you, I would be, how thoughtful of you to have her give the award. What about the grandmother, does she realize what a great thing her grandchild has done, what she has done for her. If I had a wish, a wish to come true, I would wish that some clothing store would pick up on this and hand over a wardrobe for the person receiving the prize so they can go on to higher education proud to strut their stuff. Of course that is the girl in me. I'm very impressed Mr B and I haven't said that to many people.
You must be getting ready for your summer, so have a great one, write when you can, and I will let you know when I am ready to send my check to you.
Sincerely, Rose

12:17 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home