He’ll School You

Rafe Esquith reveals the burning passion of teaching.

To borrow and rephrase a quote from Big Daddy Kane, teachin’ (much like pimpin’) ain’t easy. The pay is notoriously lousy, and the government never seems to truly consider the desperate needs of the overburdened system before slapping on a that’ll-fix-it catch phrase. Then, of course, there’s the seemingly insurmountable task of making kids give a damn about algebra and grammar. Teachers who can penetrate the skulls of their students and make a material difference deserve a round of applause and a $1-million, as far as we’re concerned. Rafe Esquith should be first in line for that. As a teacher in the inner-city schools of Los Angeles, California, he has helped his fifth-grade class tackle high school fare by using inspiring, out-of-the-box methods. For his efforts, Esquith has taken home the American Teacher Award, Parents magazine's As You Grow Award, Oprah Winfrey's Use Your Life Award, and the Compassion in Action Award from the Dalai Lama. Plus he was the first teacher to receive the National Medal of the Arts. Now he’s written Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56, which he has described as a cookbook for teaching within the embattled education system.

Despite the heaps of accolades, Esquith has never moved on from the kids who benefit from his honest, tried, and true method of reaching them. In fact tonight at 8 at Books & Books, he’ll provide amusing anecdotes, give great advice, and share the spotlight with a troupe of former students, who will be performing Shakespeare, demonstrating sign language, and playing rock and roll. Oh, and teachers get 20 percent off all purchases tonight. Sweet! Check out the official website of Room 56: www.hobartshakespeareans.org.
Tue., Jan. 15, 8 p.m., 2008
 
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