Michael Johnston In the Deep Heart's Core

ISBN 13: 9780787665357

In the Deep Heart's Core

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In the fall of 1997, Michael Johnston went to the rural Mississippi Delta — the "deep heart's core" of the South — as a member of the Teach for America program, to become an English teacher in one of the poorest districts in the nation. At Greenville High School, he confronted a racially divided world in which his African-American students had to struggle daily against a legacy of crippling poverty and the scourges of drug addiction and gang violence that ravaged their community. In the Deep Heart's Core tells the story of how Johnston reached out to inspire his teenage students with all the means at his disposal — from the language of the great poets to the strategies of chess to the vigor of athletics. Vibrantly alive with the rich atmosphere of the Mississippi Delta — the haunting beauty of its hollows and the aching tragedy of its history — In the Deep Heart's Core is a compassionate, eloquent, and profoundly moving book. It is an inspiring and unforgettable story of one young man's experience in the Teach for America program, and of how a new generation of teachers is reaching out to give hope to the students society has forgotten.

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About the Author:

Michael Johnston, a Colorado native, moved to Mississippi after graduating from Yale in 1997. He subsequently earned a master’s degree at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and cofounded New Leaders for New Schools, an educational nonprofit that recruits and trains principals for urban schools. He is currently enrolled at Yale Law School and is preparing for a career devoted to educational reform.

From Publishers Weekly:

Fresh from a postcollege, intensive five-week crash course, Johnston began his two-year stint with Teach for America, a program that addresses the needs of some of America's most desperate classrooms. In Johnston's case, it's a high school classroom in Greenville, Miss., with "chalkboards so scratched, rusted, and embedded with chalk dust that I couldn't read the boards even if I wrote on them with fresh white paint." There he teaches students who have been through "more funerals than honor roll assemblies" due to drugs and gang violence. The school system's countless institutional failures (among them, a counselor who sells high school credits) challenge Johnston's assurance that education was the "one valuable skill I could bring to Mississippi that she could use." The students' truancy, sexual promiscuity and aggression sorely test Johnston's conviction that "underneath, they were vulnerable... still children." Successes are minuscule and failure is rampant. What makes Johnston's account noteworthy is his ability to move beyond making generalizations about impoverished schools and students. Rather, he takes readers into the constricted and often doomed lives of individuals: Corelle catches up on months of work with a six-hour marathon, but drops out of school; "confident, gracious, and charismatic" Egina becomes the accidental victim of cross fire. Although Johnston occasionally catches sight of a "few students who were trying to work effectively," they occupy the periphery. "In making the Delta my home," he observes, "I found inside her a despair beyond any I could have imagined." That compassion, leavened with good sense, makes this honest and often painful account a moving, memorable call for action.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780802140241: In the Deep Heart's Core

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ISBN 10:  0802140246 ISBN 13:  9780802140241
Publisher: Grove Press, 2003
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9780802117212: In the Deep Heart's Core

Grove Pr, 2002
Hardcover

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