At age 25, Christina Asquith left her newspaper job to work as an emergency teacher in the Badlands area of Philadelphia. In this audiobook, narrator Nancy McLemore expresses the gamut of emotions that Asquith goes through as she navigates a school system that provides no support for teachers. Asquith starts off with optimistic hopefulness, and as she progresses through the year, struggling to do her job properly, McLemore shades her voice with dismay, exhaustion, and anxiety.
Asquith returned to journalism after a year of teaching, but her story remains relevant to listeners who care about education and wish to make a difference themselves.
Christina Asquith presents a moving firsthand account of her year teaching in one of Philadelphia’s worst schools. Told with striking humor and honesty, her story begins when the School District of Philadelphia, in desperate need of 1,500 new teachers, instituted a policy of hiring "emergency certified" instructors. Asquith, then a 25-year-old reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, joined their untrained ranks. More challenging than her classroom in the crime-infested neighborhood known as "the Badlands" are the trials she faced outside, including a corrupt principal, the politics that prevented a million-dollar grant from reaching her students, and the administration’s shocking insistence that teachers maintain the appearance of success in the face of utter defeat - even if it means falsifying test scores. Her story will inspire, educate, and entertain.
Any additional comments?
The problem with narration is not the reader but bad sound editing. There are several places where sentences are repeated two or three times, which stilts the flow of the narrative. In addition one can hear the narrator clearing her throat.
This biography is the story of a school, a teacher, and a classroom.
Christina Asquith became an emergency teacher to fill in the gaps due to a severe teacher shortage. Her training was in journalism, not education, but her boyfriend had spent some time as a teacher and tried to help as best he could.
There were times that this book was painful to read - the woeful lack of supplies for the students, the dichotomy between those students who were so advanced that they were bored and they weren't learning, and those who were so far behind that they could not learn. The students at times aggravated me and made me cry due to their home lives and even minor triumphs in spite of them.
Once you get past the first chapter, which is the history of the school, the book moves along crisply, detailing the endless politics, the frustrating disruptions both inside and outside the classroom, and the soul-searching of Christina herself.
The narrator, for the most part, did a good job with feeling, tone, inflection, and even accents. Her portrayal of the principal was endlessly annoying, and occasionally she would deepen her voice for a character unnecessarily.
This book is by turns heart-warming and heart-wrenching, and well worth the read.