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Listen to three stories from the school year, starring big decisions and surprising seventh graders

During Chalkbeat’s end-of-year event, three educators told vivid stories from the past school year. If you missed the event, listen here to the stories, which touch on personal decisions and broader questions facing educators across the city.


Elana Eisen-Markowitz, a social studies teacher and restorative justice coordinator at Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters, described telling the senior class about her plans to leave and teach at a different public school this fall. She started at Letters the same year her students did—she as a first-year teacher, they in sixth grade—and their initial reactions to her decision to leave surprised her. Listen to her story below:


Josh Steckel, the college counselor at the Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies, brought one of his student’s voices into the room. “In the way Jovon writes about his father,” Steckel said before reading his student’s college essay, “I’m struck by his compassion, and by the way he refuses to distance himself from his father’s very different life experience.” Listen to the full story below, and check out this excerpt from Steckel’s recent co-authored book for more on his students’ precarious pathways to college.


Micaela Blei, education program manager at The Moth, told the crowd that when she first signed up to share her grandmother’s story of surviving the Holocaust with students, she felt confident. Storytelling is at the core of her job, after all. But sharing the story with students was harder than she expected, she said, and it was a group of notoriously rowdy seventh graders who supported her as she spoke. Listen to her story below: