At the start of this school year, SLAMedia interviewed the four new teachers who started in September about their hopes and dreams for their new jobs.
But what about the schools they left behind? None of these teachers were new to the classroom, which meant they had something to compare their new environments with. Now that they’ve each finished their first year at SLA, we caught up with two of these brand new teachers to SLA to see what they thought of SLA compared to their old schools.
History Teacher Dan Symonds
Before teaching at Science Leadership Academy, Mr. Symonds taught at Munoz Marin Elementary school for three years. He even recalls his two journals he kept and wrote in, talking about his accounts at his old school.
While SLA is in the heart of the city in a neighborhood that evidentially has more money, Munoz Marin is the polar opposite in comparison. Based in north Philly, Munoz Marin has had many struggles with the most recent one being that majority of the staff, including Symonds, was forced to transfer schools. Despite the protesting that went on to prevent this.
One stark difference Mr. Symonds sees is that his old school there were more challenges to teaching than just having a lesson prepared, whereas at SLA where he knows that as long as he has a plan, students will follow it.
The most interesting comparison he made between students here and students at Munoz Marin.
“At SLA if you think of your friend who is having a rough day. Then think of it as five times as bad, and apply it to the half of class. That was what I had to deal with everyday.”
Reflecting on my own experiences going to another school in North Philadelphia that was a neighborhood school, every comparison he made was right on the money with how I felt.
Math Teacher Victor Hernandez
Mr. Hernandez taught math at Esperanza Academy Charter School, before he taught at Science Leadership Academy.
A drastic difference he could make between the students here and the students there was that the diversity is here compared to there. At his old school the majority of students were hispanic but SLA is very diverse and hispanic students make up less than 10% of the total population.
While Mr. Hernandez did not experience a culture shock first visiting SLA he realized just how relaxed the environment was compared to his old school. Students roam halls without hallway passes, there are no hallway monitors and the biggest difference is there are no uniforms. Something that was very strictly enforced at Esperanza.
“The uniforms implied a high standard of behavior and compliance which resulted in a culture of higher behavior with less individual expression,” Mr. Hernandez explained.
While he thinks the compliance could have been organized in another way, he did see some positive benefits to the uniforms.
While Mr. Hernandez and Mr. Symonds walked two very different paths before coming to the same school, one thing that they had in common was the fact that they both wanted to make a change in children’s lives and thought that would best be done at SLA.
While both teachers are staying on at this school, they are still committed to their old communities and their former students. Both will be attending their schools respective graduations this year.