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Jesus Creed

RobinWilliams.jpgThe NYTimes published a piece this week reporting a new school in Washington Hts (from the Equity Project) that has assembled a dream team of teachers, paid them 125 grand a piece with promises of as much as 25 grand for bonuses if the scores are good, and the article is suggesting that the problem in education is getting good teachers. Good readers of the Jesus Creed blog, what do you think of this approach? What makes a good teacher? What makes a good school?

The school’s founder, Zeke M. Vanderhoek, 32, a Yale graduate who
founded a test prep company, has been grappling with just these issues.
Over the past 15 months he conducted a nationwide search that was
almost the American Idol
of education — minus the popular vote, but complete with hometown
visits (Mr. Vanderhoek crisscrossed the country to observe the top 35
applicants in their natural habitats) and misty-eyed fans (like the
principal who got so emotional recommending Casey Ash that, Mr.
Vanderhoek recalled, she was “basically crying on the phone with me,
saying what a treasure he was.”) …

The eight winning candidates, he said, have some common traits, like a
high “engagement factor,” as measured by the portion of a given time
frame during which students seem so focused that they almost forget
they are in class. They were expert at redirecting potential
troublemakers, a crucial skill for middle school teachers. And they
possessed a contagious enthusiasm — which Rhena Jasey, 30, Harvard
Class of 2001, who has been teaching at a school in Maplewood, N.J.,
conveyed by introducing a math lesson with, “Oh, this is the fun part
because I looooooove math!” Says Mr. Vanderhoek: “You couldn’t help but
get excited.” Hired.

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