Michael Steele is the Gr 6-12 Program Manager – Leadership Development and Instructional Support with the Early College Initiative at the City University of New York. Michael is also a brilliant educator. I appreciate having Michael’s guidance to brainstorm middle school ideas with. He sent around the following reflection this morning – and it speaks to the positive and personal relationships that ECI has built with their 6-12 schools. Here is a window into the ECI 6-12 culture.
Graduation is always a time to reflect on the ups and downs of the school year. This year is no different. I’ve attended many graduations already and I have a couple more left. I just want to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone working in the 6-12 schools. Thank you for making me laugh, and cry, for 180 days. All of you are part of a unique community that does much more than simply provide an education. You build the whole child and provide a much needed service. I look forward to my days in the schools and my time with the students, teachers, and leaders. Kids are the ones who make it all worth while. I have a special fondness for 6th and 9th graders. They are sponges and soak up everything put in front of them. My first teaching job was with 9th and 11th graders (English) and I was a middle school principal. There is something about watching middle school kids make connections. I love when they get it and the light goes on. At QSI they are doing chemistry global history work in 6th grade and don’t even realize it. They are also making beautiful music and fantastic art. They also have rock star math teachers who I love taking teachers to watch and learn from. They are just a great place for learning. At CCAA they are tackling complex math questions and writing research papers in 7th grade. They also have superstar math teachers who always seem to shock me (in a good way) when I visit their rooms. CCAA is one place where kids don’t talk about what they cant do. They just do it. At Hostos, my hidden gem in the South Bronx, the 6th graders and challenging teachers to do more in math and are coding with the computer teacher. They blew me away in January when they were at Hostos Community College making music, making videos, and discussing the history of the South Bronx. You had to be there. You also had to be there as half the of graduating class received their associates degrees. At KECSS 6th graders and being pushed to think outside the box in math and the AP Computer Science class taught like a graduate level class. Every member of the administration teaches a class and they hold the kids accountable. This is another place where 76 percent of the graduating class received their associates degrees. At YECA, the geometry and 7th grade math and ELA classes have kids digging deeper and working with each other to solve problems. This is a testament to the teachers and administrators. And at STAR, middle school kids focus on the regents so they can be ready for AP classes once they hit high school. I could go on and on about each school and I feel so honored to be a part of the greatness happening in these schools. I feel like a member of the family. Thanks for a great year and I’m looking forward to more awesome teaching and leading this summer and next year. People always ask me how I feel about the schools and I always say, “If I have kids, I’d send them to one of the ECI 6-12 schools and never worry about a thing”. Each schools brings something great and special to the table, but they all put kids first.