LCFC Journal #25: A Letter to My 18-Year-Old Self

17 Sep

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Dear Kevin,

 

I’m your future self, ten years from now. First and foremost, congratulations!!! The beginning to the rest of your life begins now. How are you feeling? You’re probably going through a constant flux of emotions currently. I know you feel a lot of angst about college but you’ve been raised right by your parents. You are going to get through it!!! The reason why I’m writing to you right now is because I’ve been through some of the things you will have to endure in due time and I figured I’d write to tell you what to expect on the journey up ahead. The first thing you need to realize is that college is a good idea for anyone wanting to get ahead in life but the schooling you’ll receive alone is not the answer. There is a lot of grit, determination, persistence, effort and hustle that will get you to where you need to be.

Now do I know exactly where you’ll be in about 15 or twenty years personally? Of course not, because if that was the case, I would have been figured it out for myself as well. So, I think that it is safe to say that we’re all learning. It doesn’t matter how old you are. There’s something to learn in every way possible and life lessons to be experienced every step of the way. You’re probably thinking that you’re going to make it throughout the entire 4-year college experience with the mindset that you will major in one field exclusively. That can happen but I also want you to be understanding that your desires, career path and expectations will change every step of the way. Whatever you do young fella, don’t limit yourself. Take advantage of every single opportunity college has to offer you: social life, networking, internships and building relationships with people that share the same interests as you and have similar mindsets.

Also, I know you feel as if you have an allegiance to dad but if you know deep within your heart that computer engineering is not for you then DON’T DO IT! It doesn’t make any sense to be paying for an education that will grant you access to a career that you hate. What I’ve learned over the last ten years is that in life, we need to be reasonable but a bit selfish sometimes. If you’re going to study something make sure that it’s in something that you love. Will it guarantee you a position somewhere with full benefits and a salary? Maybe. Probably not. So, why not just focus on happiness and letting the rest play out as the days and years unfold? Also, you are not alone in this journey!! You have a full support system around you or will come to have one in due time. There are good people out there you just need to find the right ones that fit you as a person and as a future professional. Another thing: don’t break the bank in order to service your education. If you come to a point where you cannot afford to pay for private school consider going to a community college. These colleges are affordable ways to gain educational experience and if you commit your time to studying and being focused you will prepare yourself for further schooling afterwards. Most importantly Kev, just be you. There will be detractors and critics out there that want to see you fall flat on your face. It will be up to you to block it and cancel out all noise. Last, but not least, in your quest for happiness and success don’t let ambition and desires deter you from spending time with family. If I had the opportunity to do it all over again this is something I would certainly press a hard reset on. No matter what it is that you will be facing in college, you will never have the chance to have another support system in your life as much as family. Doing well in school is cool, following your dreams is great but what’s the point to all of that when you’re not making time to celebrate accordingly with the ones you love? Alas, I am done here.

Being 28-years-old doesn’t afford me enough time to say everything that I’d like to say due to bills, workload and being at a crossroads of possibly switching careers. But nonetheless, I know you have what it takes to make it happen Kevin. You’re bright, funny and very generous. Your energy is magnetic and it lights up any room that you walk into. You’re going to be fine. Be sure to keep God first every step of the way and remember that life is a journey. You must experience it every day in full in order to get to the next part of the journey. If you don’t know what I mean, don’t worry young fella, you’ll soon understand in due time. I wish you nothing but the best and I hope to hear from you in ten years or so. Let me know how it all works out for you down the line.

 

Signed,

-Your Older Self

Kev Elev

 

Kevin Anglade is a writer, poet, scholar, educator and publisher from Queens, New York. He started taking writing seriously at the age of 21 in 2012 and since then uses art as a way to educate and promote self-expression. In the summer of 2018, Anglade took residency in Takoradi, Ghana as he was selected to take part in Limited Resources Teacher Training, a fellowship that takes teachers to various countries to provide instructional training and resources as a form of equitable exchange. Anglade holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s from the City University of New York in English literature (Brooklyn & Queens College). He is a part-time professor in the General Ed Studies Department at Goodwin College and currently teaches English Language Arts at the Ethel Walker School for Girls in Simsbury, Connecticut. He enjoys, reading, writing, hip-hop, stand-up comedy, basketball and is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection, “A Flower That Rose” (2021).

LCFC Journal #24: Self-Worth vs. Market Value (In 5 Parts)

13 Aug

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Part I: Believe in Yourself

One summer’s day, I tuned into the Breakfast Club in 2018 and the crew happened to be interviewing the lovely and super talented Amanda Seales. While I was watching, DJ Envy asked her why she chose not to quit in pursuit of her dreams when things weren’t going her way. And her response to that question certainly struck me as she said: “I’ve always believed in my actual talent. I always knew my worth but you have to know your market value. And so, people don’t understand the difference between that and that’s how you get in the way of advancing.” When I heard this during an afternoon drive, I nodded my head profusely. At the time I felt as if that was something I had been dealing with my entire existence. I always had to fight to be recognized for my talents. I always had to fight to prove that I was worthy enough to be in the same room as people that were just as or more successful than me. I always had to fight for what I believed in and prove that I belonged. However, there were people or institutions that always passed on me. Whether they thought I was good enough or not, I’ve always felt as if anything I’ve ever really wanted in life I’ve never gotten. Little did I know at the time that I was wrong, and I had come to terms that if I didn’t believe in myself than who would ever believe in me?

Part II: Practice Patience

After graduating from college with a degree in English literature, I remember being in a state of shock. There were no job offers. No fellowships. Nothing. I remember thinking to myself, “what the hell is going on, right now? Is this for real?” I just couldn’t understand how someone such as myself who had completed two internships in the publishing industry and finished undergrad with a 3.5 GPA would find himself with no opportunities. The state I was in connects back to the conversation Miss Seales had on the Breakfast Club where she also stated, “Sometimes we get frustrated on the path and to your point people give up because they’re like damn, why shit ain’t turning over yet?” Frustration wasn’t even the word for me. Angry was more like it. By the time summer 14’ came and went, with it also went any guarantees or inkling of a job. I was livid as I started thinking about all the things I possibly did wrong in college. Maybe I didn’t join enough clubs. Maybe I didn’t do enough internships. All I wanted was an opportunity to work in the publishing industry and it seemed as if it was never going to happen.

Part III: Self Perception vs. Expectation

In November of 2014, I started working at Queensborough Community College as a part-time secretary. During that time, I remember thinking that working there was only going to be temporary for me, at least, so I thought. Personally, I didn’t expect to be there any longer than 6-9 months. However, the universe had other intentions as I worked there for two and a half years. In August of 2015, I remember being very miserable due to the amount of applications I had put in with no responses to show for it. Once again, I felt like a failure and what didn’t help was that I never planned to work at my old junior college. Before long, I started to think my just due would soon arrive. There was no way that I was going into 2016 still in the dilemma I was in. Which leads me back to another bit in the interview where Amanda said, “I think a lot of that too is that people think they’re owed the turnover. Like, I put in the work why hasn’t it happened? That’s when you have to really step back and think: what are the ways in which I’m getting in my own way?” In 2015, I expected a major turnover for my own life. I expected it. I craved it. I wanted it. But it didn’t happen. Someway, somehow, I stayed positive. I stayed focused.

Part IV: Stuntin’ On The Gram

Social media is a killer. Seriously. I remember when I was amid my quarter life crisis trying to figure out what direction I was heading in and would constantly be on Instagram. My time spent on the platform wasn’t good as I would often find myself comparing my trajectory with those of my peers. This was and still is (in certain ways) the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with growing up as an adult. I would see people taking photos on swanky vacations or posting about their new careers and how happy they were in their field. Seeing this made me think less of myself and that I must have done something wrong along the way. For me, I know I’m someone that is truly talented and can offer a lot to a company in writing, publishing or media. But I felt as if the world felt the total opposite and chose to ignore me along the way. It wasn’t until I heard Amanda’s perspective on this that I started to make connections with my situation. In her interview with TBC, she also stated, “The reason I say it’s so important to know your market value versus your own personal value is because that’s what drives you crazy. And there’s all these folks out here winning and you’re like, what am I doing wrong?” All I wanted was a shot as I hoped that I’d get one along the way.

Part V: Validation

Last fall, I applied for a PhD in English at several institutions in the north east. This past spring, I heard from all my schools of choice and they said, “no”. At first, I didn’t sweat it much as I was waiting on one school in particular to get back to me which was Brown University but as I waited and finally received my rejection letter I remember going home and crying a bit that night. Brown was an institution that fit my research agenda to a T. In addition, it’s an Ivy League so I knew that the potential for major opportunities would be endless at a school with such renowned prestige. But when they said “no” there I was again feeling like I had come so close only to let an opportunity that was once in a lifetime slip through the cracks. I was crushed. I felt like quitting life altogether. I couldn’t understand why things once again did not go my way. A few days later, I remember driving back home to Connecticut after spending the weekend in New York and I found myself listening to Amanda Seales’s Small Doses podcast (which I absolutely recommend) and she once again mentioned the idea of self-worth vs. market value. In another episode, Miss Seales read her personal statement that got her into Columbia University where she did a Master’s in African-American Studies with a concentration in Hip-Hop. I couldn’t help but smile as she rejuvenated my thirst and quest for higher education. Thanks to her I began to realize that the rejection notices weren’t personal. I just had to try again and hope that the next time around the schools I’d be applying to would see value enough in my credentials to want to take a chance on me. And in that very same BC interview she said this: “A lot of times we get bent out of shape and we quit because we don’t understand the game. We don’t know the difference between knowing your worth but also knowing other values to other projects and you gotta get in certain spaces to increase other peoples perception of your work. This is the game.” Bottom line here: Never give up on what you think is for you because if it is for you, the universe will grant it to you in due time. Thank you, Amanda Seales for inspiring this post. We’re all capable of achieving our dreams and deepest desires, it’s just a matter of having the right eyes fall upon your work in the right place and at the right time. Hence, market value.

 

KEVIN ANGLADE is the author of mercy for murder(s) in brooklyn, a detective fiction novel. He was featured on NBC’s The Debrief with David Ushery in 2014 where he provided insight and purpose about small-press publishing. Anglade holds an A.S. in Theatre, (Queensborough Community College) a B.A. in English (Brooklyn College) and an M.A. in English (Queens College). He recently taught 7th & 8th grade English Language Arts in Hartford, Connecticut and is the author of the poetry collection “Life Comes From Concrete”: a poetry memoir (2016).

Find him online at:

http://www.kevinanglade.com

Twitter/IG: @velevek

 

 

LCFC Journal #23: Young, Black, Teaching in America Part III

16 Jul

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New School, New Rules

In 2018-19, I became the English Language Arts Teacher at West Middle Community School. As I transferred there fresh off my first-year teaching experience at Simpson-Waverly, I was hoping for similar results. However, I quickly learned that a new environment is one that brings forth a lot of adjustment. Whether that be daily routine, getting used to the people around you and how one goes about executing the job at hand. I remember feeling hopeful prior to the first day of school but also a bit vulnerable at the same time. There was no doubt that I wished I could drive up to the north end of Hartford and continue teaching at the gem of a school I loved but that wasn’t reality. I had to set my focus upon the present. And the present at the time called for my services more than I could have ever imagined.

Morning Line Up 2.0

My time at West Middle was not one where I simply was a teacher. It was one in which I stepped up and became a leader. For one thing, I had two different kind of students for 7th & 8th grade. 8th grade was one that was very rough around the edges due to them having a rotation of teachers coming and going over the last two years. 7th grade was a cohort that had a bit of structure and stability due to the strong presence and discipline of their 6th grade teachers. For me, I wanted to bring in the same kind of goal-setting or foundation that I learned at my prior school which led to me implementing my own rendition of the morning line up with the math teachers. At first, students didn’t like it but overtime they grew accustomed to the nature of the line up as well as its structure. The line up set boundaries, provided students with daily announcements, addressed hot topics of the school, behavior, discipline and whatever that was needed to let students know that nothing short of exemplary leadership and academic excellence was expected of them.

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West Middle Basketball

One day during dismissal in October, I remember my 6th grade colleague, Toni Johnson approaching me and asked if I liked basketball. In response, I told her, “Yes, I love basketball!” From there, I remember her asking if I would be interested in being the coach of the school basketball team. I told her that I would definitely consider it. She then told me that she’d talk to the athletic director of the team to coordinate a meeting about the position and what would be required to be certified. After meeting with the director, Joseph Bumpers, he told me that the coach of the team in prior years was moving on to something else, therefore, they needed to fill the position. I was truly happy to hear it as I thought it would be a challenge and a way for me to bond with my students. Once I started training camp and assembling the team, I realized that I needed more help due to my inexperience with the position and decided to allow someone who had prior coaching experience to assist me. That person I’m speaking of is a man by the name of Carlos Sierra Sr. His son, Carlos Sierra Jr. was the starting power forward on the team and he willingly wanted to help me coach and see the students to success on the court. I remember there being many days where students were upset with us because of the rigorous nature of Carlos’s training regimen. Overall, I loved it as I thought it provided our boys with discipline and structure that was sorely missing in their academics as well as personal lives. Ultimately, this led to a winning season where we went 5-2 in the regular season and 1-1 in Hartford’s postseason basketball tournament. Throughout the season we received a lot of good feedback and support from school staff and students. They were happy to see the team succeeding and playing together. For me, I was elated to see the boys being successful and the hard work paying off. There was no doubt that Carlos and myself put the best product out on the hardwood that we possibly could and I was very proud of that.

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Poetry Slamming

Every year of school I have a unit of study that focuses on poetry for both 7th and 8th grade. During these units I have a special guest poet visit the school to teach writing to the students for a week alongside myself. Over the last two years, every time I’ve done this, it has brought out the best in students in terms of them expressing themselves and how they truly feel about their personal lives and the world around them. While doing so, I decided to create events for students to showcase their writing. Although I had already done events to this degree before, it was the first time that students themselves were taking ownership of their work and producing content on another level. It was something to be marveled as students read poems about blackness, the story of their own lives and what they hoped for their selves in the future. As a writer and poet myself it was more than I could have ever asked for. I was truly impressed by their abilities and bravery to hit the stage and exude confidence as they performed their work.

The Catfish Crew

One day, I remember dropping off one of my 7th grade classes to lunch and I remember a few of my students stopping me in tracks to show me a script. When I looked at it, I saw that they had written something that was funny, smart and brimming with potential. To say that I was excited while reading the script is an understatement. I instantly imagined the possibilities and what could come out of a script. At Simpson-Waverly, I wrote, produced and directed a play in which my students starred in but at West Middle I went into the year with the intention of forming a creative writing and drama club that would enable students to create their own original work in class and on stage. And so, once basketball season ended, I quickly formed the club. For weeks on end, we wrote, laughed, and marveled at the level of skill and innovation that was displayed in each person’s writing and worked hard to create a play that the school could be proud of and enjoy all the same. Unfortunately, that did not happen as students were unable to learn the script due to high demands of testing and a rigorous school schedule. However, their efforts were not in vain as the work done in both club time and prior to the poetry slams resulted in an anthology of short stories and poems called The Ocean of Emotion by the students themselves. I’ll never forget receiving the package with all the books inside of them. I’m sure that there is no way I will be able to top that achievement as a teacher.

The Horizon

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Looking back, I’m proud of the impact I made at West Middle. I learned a lot about what being a leader is. I learned a lot about stepping up to the plate and servicing the needs of my students. I learned a lot about who I am as a person and how genuine it is in my character to give and provide opportunities for students to be successful. I learned a lot leading a group of young men on the basketball court and guiding them to a winning season as players and as students. I learned a lot about giving a group of young ladies the chance to have their voices heard in poetry slams and read in a book as they’ve become published authors. I am more than grateful for the relationships I’ve formed with my students and it is my hope that they realize that the sky for them is the limit and that life for them has only just started.

 

Thank You’s (West Middle)

I would like to thank everyone and all organizations at West Middle Community School that provided me with opportunities and assisted me in making an impact this past school year. These organizations are: Hartford Public Schools and the Boys & Girls Club of Asylum Hill. Those people are: Lynn Estey, Joseph Bumpers, Stacy-Monique Wylie-Arthur, Candace Greenfield, Carlos Sierra Sr. and Ashley Jackson. You all are appreciated for all that you do to help our students. I thank you all again for such a wonderful experience at this school as I move on to the next part of my journey as an educator in the upcoming school year.

 

Signing Off,

– Mr. Kevin Anglade

ELA Teacher (West Middle) 2018-19

 

KEVIN ANGLADE is the author of mercy for murder(s) in brooklyn, a detective fiction novel. He was featured on NBC’s The Debrief with David Ushery in 2014 where he provided insight and purpose about small-press publishing. Anglade holds an A.S. in Theatre, (Queensborough Community College) a B.A. in English (Brooklyn College) and an M.A. in English (Queens College). He recently taught 7th & 8th grade English Language Arts in Hartford, Connecticut and is the author of the poetry collection “Life Comes From Concrete”: a poetry memoir (2016).

Find him online at:

http://www.kevinanglade.com

Twitter/IG: @velevek

LCFC Journal #22: Young, Black, Teaching in America Part II

18 Jun

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In 2017-18, I found myself to be extremely fortunate to have been hired as a 7th/8th grade ELA teacher at Simpson-Waverly Community School in Hartford, Connecticut. After completing my training at TFA Institute in Philly where I served my summer 17’ assignment at Simon Gratz High School, I was ready for the next chapter. Or, at least I thought I was. After returning home on Sunday, July 30th. I racked my brain wondering what was next for me in Connecticut as I hadn’t been offered a job or granted many interviews at that point in time. The more I thought about it, the more nervous I became.

And so, a week later, I was off to Connecticut for August training with TFA in which I was focused on lesson planning and freaking out about my lack of a guaranteed job. Once training concluded the week of the 15th and school was about to begin, I received a call from the Dean of Students at Simpson-Waverly telling me that they were interested and requesting that I come in for an interview.

Upon arrival, I found myself seated with the Dean of Students and principal. Although I was nervous and felt unprepared due to it being last minute, I felt a bit at ease with them since they were both black admins and as a young man of color it meant a lot to me to see people that looked like me as head representatives of the faculty and administration. After the interview, (which I thought went well) I remember following up with the principal, thanking him for the opportunity and wishing him well in the hopes that I wanted to be there during the first day of school.

Less than a week later, he reached out to me by e-mail and said that he wanted me on his team for the 2017-18 school year which was scheduled to start in a week’s time at that point. During that moment in time, I was excited for what was to come and promised to put my best foot forward. However, what was certainly going to be a problem heading into the first day of school was that I had no materials, classroom items, resources, etc. Although a major concern, it turned out alright for me as I was lucky to be placed with three teachers apart of my middle school team that really helped me get my classroom in order and always reached out for assistance and answered my questions as I was getting acclimated to the school culture, climate of education and everything you could name or think of in between.

Now, as for teaching goes. Let’s just say that not only was I overwhelmed but I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing. I hadn’t made lesson or unit plans as I was not sure what I would be focusing on with my students and it certainly showed. The students seeing this, definitely took advantage of me as they knew I was still trying to figure it all out. And so, I remember one day teaching in either my third or fourth week in which I lost complete control of the classroom. No one was paying attention, students were doing whatever they wanted and one student came up to me and told me that if I didn’t think I could do the job any longer that I should quit. The student said, “Mr. this is how it always is around here and if this is too much for you it’s okay to quit because it’s only going to get worse.” I didn’t doubt her and part of me wanted to heed her advice and get the hell out of there because I felt as if I didn’t deserve the stress and since I had just wrapped up my Master’s degree and desired to return to academia that a job of this nature was definitely not worth it. But somehow, I stuck with it and I hung in there, trying and failing, learning and doing, until I eventually got the hang of it with practice and coaching that I received from my school, TFA coach, colleagues and professional development opportunities from the school district.

The true turning point for me came on the 25th of October that year. I had missed the day prior because my car window had been busted and I had to take the day off to repair it. However, when I returned to school, the kids started saying, “Mr. Anglade, you’re FAMOUS!! We found your books and poetry on google!” As I heard this I was taken aback as I couldn’t deny it but also flattered at the same time. From that point on my students no longer looked at me the same and I felt a shift in terms of their admiration for me. The fact that I had a layer beneath the surface that exhibited me as more than a teacher really made me appear cool or something of the sort. Often more times than not, students in America paint a picture that their everyday school teachers only do one thing. It’s kind of similar to the stance you take as a child growing up. You forget that your very own parents had lives before you and that at one point they were kids just like you that did exactly what you do or maybe even worse. And so, I think it was cool to be accepting of this fact and for my students to see this side of me.

Furthermore, the students’ expectations or understanding of me shifted again but this time it happened on the basketball court as the school coach asked me and a few college youth interns to practice with the team through a scrimmage to help prepare them for the upcoming season. I obliged and found it to be thrilling as the students were taken aback that their ELA teacher could not only play basketball put perform well and keep up with them out on the court. Although, I didn’t think about it much, afterwards I reflected and thought how important it was to have my students see that side of me. It really meant a lot to them and as a result their respect and appreciation for me grew even more.

During my time serving the students of Simpson-Waverly, I thought it was important to not only teach them what was expected from the curriculum and state standards but I also thought that I made them think critically about the theme of every book we covered by having them explore films, music videos, hip hop and interviews to expand their understanding of the topics we covered which enabled them to wrestle and unpack those ideas in a humanistic way. These were everyday thoughts or concerns that also affected their livelihoods and the people within their community.

At the end of the school year, my creative side started bubbling. Since I knew the school was closing, I became inspired and thought it would be incredible to put on an open mic/sketch show that combined the components of Russell Simon’s Def Poetry Jam with Damon Wayan’s In Living Color. At first, the idea seemed great and the kids loved the script that I drafted but I wasn’t sure if it would actually happen as the kids weren’t focused most of the time or taking it too seriously. However, the idea was executed and the students rocked the production for our entire middle school to great success. I was so proud of them that I couldn’t contain my excitement or how I felt about the production and I’m sure they appreciated the opportunity and got something great out of it too. To this day, I look at that production as my greatest artistic achievement and feel so humbled and lucky to have worked with such amazing students.

On graduation day, I was clapping and cheering for my students as I was so proud of them and overwhelmed with joy. But as I clapped I couldn’t help but think that I would never see most of them again and that they were moving on to high school one step closer to being adults in this big scary world. Though, I was at peace that I had done my job and was happy to see them all advance to what lied ahead. It also hit me that the school year flew by and that the ten months I was fortunate enough to spend with them was simply a moment in time that I’m glad I not only experienced but cherished, both good and bad.

Moving forward, I will never forget my time served as an ELA teacher at Simpson-Waverly Community School. For it to have been my first year as an instructor and outside of my normal comfort zone of being an artist, I realized how important the work was and that leading bright youthful minds brimming with untapped potential is the job of a noble being. Therefore, I say that to say thank you to all my students who made my first year of teaching a success. You all can say that I taught you a lot or something along the way but in retrospect, I learned a little something about sacrifice and patience and for that I will always appreciate being a student to you all as well.

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Until next time.

– Mr. Kevin Anglade

ELA Teacher (Simpson-Waverly) 2017-18

 

KEVIN ANGLADE is the author of mercy for murder(s) in brooklyn, a detective fiction novel. He was featured on NBC’s The Debrief with David Ushery in 2014 where he provided insight and purpose about small-press publishing. Anglade holds an A.S. in Theatre, (Queensborough Community College) a B.A. in English (Brooklyn College) and an M.A. in English (Queens College). He currently teaches 7th & 8th grade English Language Arts in Hartford, Connecticut and is the author of the poetry collection “Life Comes From Concrete”: a poetry memoir (2016).

Find him online at:

http://www.kevinanglade.com

Twitter/IG: @velevek

LCFC Journal #21: Young, Black, Teaching in America Part I

21 May

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Last month, I was given an opportunity to spend the weekend in Memphis, Tennessee for the annual Teach For America Black Corps Members Summit. And while there, I had the most amazing time sitting with fellow black educators from all over the country. The theme of the conference was Healing, Building, Creating and Growing as we took part in programming at the University of Memphis centered around these notions and what they could potentially look like both in theory and practice.

From the start, the conference was very uplifting and special as the presenters and panelists talked about the importance of the work we do daily as black educators. If anything, the moderators and creators of this summit wanted us educators to take something back from the space that would enable us to continue to impact and empower our children. Although I loved the banding that took place, I couldn’t help but feel hopeless and discouraged. Teaching thus far had been a blessing and a great opportunity for me to reconnect with children that came from the same kind of communities that I did growing up but that’s often where the similarities ended.

I didn’t want to be the pessimist of the entire group, but I thought it was important to acknowledge the lack of interest in education (for my students at least) and how we could go about changing that. During a moment of reflection with the corps member group I was assigned to my comments opened up an entire discussion that stemmed from lack of support, resources and many other cons that come with serving our impoverished communities as educators. I kept it real and honest. I wanted people to know that although I had a pretty good relationship with a lot of my students, I was often tired, disheartened and miserable about their disinterest in learning.

Teaching can be fun but when you’re in an over-sized classroom where a majority of students would rather spend the entire time on their cell phones as you try to push content, not only is it frustrating, but it is exhausting! The truth is, most of my students don’t come to school to learn. They come to school to hang out and see their friends. They come to school to make sure that their snapchat is lit. They come to school to gossip and record the latest fight on social media. They come to school to eat and get a meal or two out of it because they are hungry (totally understandable).

But what breaks my heart about this is that most of my students are not performing up to standard. A majority of them are not on grade level, have issues reading, writing, and lack the tools needed to be successful in high school and beyond. Part of me feels like: what could I have done to better prepare them? Where did I go wrong as a teacher? Was I not strict enough? Was I lousy in how I presented information? Are my classes boring? Am I an inadequate educator? Did I make a mistake going into this profession?

All questions that many of the educators at the conference also shared. The doubt was real but with it came validation that should occur when you find yourself invested in a child’s education more than he or she does. If there’s anything I took from my time at the conference last month is that as an educator, you do the best you can to educate your students. However, you must continue to do the work. You must continue to fight for equity in all sectors of education. You must continue to fight for your students. You must continue to tell your students (especially black and latino) that they are important and that their hopes and dreams matter. You must continue to be there in every way imaginable. Lastly, you must continue to show up for them. Whether in the classroom or outside of it. Although I’m unsure what the future holds for me in teaching, I’m certain that I’m committed to this work of equity. The work of education. One way or another I will continue to go at bat for my students of color. They need me. They need you. They need us. Therefore, as easy as it is to throw blame in any direction let’s all do our best to hold ourselves accountable. Put them first at all costs.

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KEVIN ANGLADE is the author of mercy for murder(s) in brooklyn, a detective fiction novel. He was featured on NBC’s The Debrief with David Ushery in 2014 where he provided insight and purpose about small-press publishing. Anglade holds an A.S. in Theatre, (Queensborough Community College) a B.A. in English (Brooklyn College) and an M.A. in English (Queens College). He currently teaches 7th & 8th grade English Language Arts in Hartford, Connecticut and is the author of the poetry collection “Life Comes From Concrete”: a poetry memoir (2016).

Find him online at:

http://www.kevinanglade.com

Twitter/IG: @velevek

LCFC Journal #20: The Daily Game 7

16 Apr

20171024_075119_1508845919347In the month of August in 2018, I moved to Hartford from New Haven to embark on life on my own.  During that time, I was elated to have moved out from a stressful situation that left me with no other option. However, I soon learned that life would build upon my stressors. Within a span of three months, I had almost maxed out the $7,000 limit on my credit card and found myself in large debt.

There were several things that contributed to this matter. Multiple parking violations as well as towings of my car in New Haven set me up for a huge financial hardship. Not to mention, a security deposit of $1,500 and the first month’s $900 rent in advance at my new apartment complex. For the most part, I stayed positive throughout the experience of moving into my own place. But, personally, I’ll never forget the day that placed me under and set me up for a tumultuous financial burden that still haunts me to this day.

On August 24th I left my New Haven apartment in my rear view with all my belongings stuffed in my 2005 Hyundai Elantra and drove northbound on the I-95. Quickly, I merged into the lane that would transport me to Hartford, the city where I taught for a living and secretly loved. As I drove, I couldn’t have gotten there fast enough. It was a fresh start for me. I was set to begin teaching at a new school the following week. I was going to live in the same city as my new girlfriend. And I was going to make the best of the opportunity and hoped that it would pay dividends in return.

As I drove past the North Haven exit on the I-90, I heard a loud sound as if a gunshot had just erupted from underneath my car’s hood. Before I knew what happened, I wrestled with the steering wheel as the car jerked from side to side. As debris began to fly off the car, my instincts took over as I quickly reduced speed and got into the right lane before coming to a complete halt on the side of the road. When I turned off the ignition and made my way out of the vehicle to go assess the damage, my worst fear had materialized. “A tire blowout,” I said to myself. I instantly knew it was going to cost me.

At that moment, I called my girlfriend and calmly explained what had happened. I told her that I was being towed to the nearest auto-repair shop in Hamden and to meet me there as I got my car repaired. She agreed and when the towing truck driver gave me a ride to the shop, I couldn’t help but be thankful to be alive as the situation could have been so much worse. However, I also couldn’t help but think that more money was coming out of my pocket. Overall, the cost to repair the damage to my vehicle had been $1,200 dollars. In a flash I saw my credit card debt balloon to $5,600. At that point in time I was $1,400 away from the threshold of my limit.

The following week, I had to pay $900 for my first month’s rent which was pro-rated. At the time, I didn’t have the finances to afford it on my debit card and so once again the money itself came out of my other plastic card. By then, I had $500 in credit left. Once I moved into my new apartment and had settled in, I realized that my credit card was maxed out at $7,000. “How did this happen?” I thought. How could I have been so irresponsible and frugal with my spending? Also, I couldn’t help but think that my education couldn’t help me with my dilemma at hand. “Is this why I went and got a Master’s degree? So that I could struggle with the likeliness of no end in sight?” It was a tough pill to swallow and for the first time ever in my life I had to come to terms with my circumstance. I was a broke middle school ELA teacher with a Master’s degree living paycheck-to-paycheck in Hartford. Definitely not the trajectory of life I had initially planned for.

After accruing interest rates on my student loans as well as picking up all kinds of bills (electricity, gas and internet) that I had not paid for in full prior to living on my own (due to the leisure of having a roommate) I quietly died inside. I didn’t know what I was going to do as I thought getting another job to help pay off the debt might have been necessary.

Eventually, I stopped beating myself up for my financial struggles. I told myself that I needed to realize that I lived in America and the institution of the society at its core was built to keep masses of people in debt. Once I made peace with the matter, months went by and days got easier to manage the stress load.

Every morning as I would drive to work I began praying for God to watch over me. If I needed to fill up my gas for travel, I’d do so the moment I got payed. If I needed to shop for groceries, I’d buy them immediately as it was impossible to do so between checks. The rent itself was always payed a few days late. But most importantly, each time I’d walk to my car I would pray, “God, every day is a game 7 please make sure that nothing happens to me and that I can make it back home in one peace not having to worry about an accident or getting hurt on the job or in the streets.” So far, I feel as if he’s answered my prayers and, in the meantime, the best way to repay him is to show that I’m responsible enough to face my issue of debt head on. In the end, when it’s all said and done, it’s going to be me that will crush the debt I’ve amassed. No one else.

I wrote this post to help those in need of being real with themselves. So many times, we find ourselves being superficial on social media and in public. For some reason we’re not saying what’s really hurting us. Now, I don’t think everyone’s dilemmas will disappear through honesty but by acknowledging them, we will open ourselves up to shaping our futures into whatever it is that our hearts desire. If you are in debt at this current point in time it’s okay. Just be sure to make a financial plan and do whatever it takes to extinguish it at your own pace. Whether with or without a Master’s degree.

KEVIN ANGLADE is the author of mercy for murder(s) in brooklyn, a detective fiction novel. He was featured on NBC’s The Debrief with David Ushery in 2014 where he provided insight and purpose about small-press publishing. Anglade holds an A.S. in Theatre, (Queensborough Community College) a B.A. in English (Brooklyn College) and an M.A. in English (Queens College). He currently teaches 7th & 8th grade English Language Arts in Hartford, Connecticut and is the author of the poetry collection “Life Comes From Concrete”: a poetry memoir (2016).

Find him online at:

http://www.kevinanglade.com

Twitter/IG: @velevek

LCFC Journal #19: A Rose in Ghana – The Summary

21 Jan

IMG_5585Last summer, I had the pleasure of spending 3 weeks in Takoradi, Ghana as a teaching fellow for a program called Limited Resources Teacher Training or LRTT for short. During this program, myself and 19 other teachers from various parts of the U.S. led professional development conferences for in-country teachers. The objective was to provide an equitable exchange of ideas through effective teaching practices and strategies that would allow teachers to provide their students with various opportunities to exhibit growth and progress. The other part of this exchange was for fellows to also grow and develop skills in leadership while bringing confidence and a reinvigorated sense of passion back into the classroom for the following school year. Well, let’s just say I got a little bit of everything in between and more out of the experience.

 

I’ll never forget my first night in Ghana as I flew into the city of Accra and met my team leaders that would guide me and the other fellows throughout our three-week journey. The name of the hotel we stayed at was the Pink Hostel. And after being given my room key and winding down for bed, I heard a rooster crow for the first time in my life at 3AM. Wow, you’ve come a long way from New York City was all I could tell myself. After waking up the following morning and meeting the rest of my cohort, we spent an additional night in Accra before clamoring our luggage and selves into a bus and driving four hours south to Takoradi, the city and district where we would be working in various schools.

 

From that point onward, I fell in love. I immediately felt right at home and took in the sights. Dirt roads, cattle, chickens, roosters, goats, wild dogs, and children waving at us and expressing elation in seeing foreigners in their town. I’ll never forget telling myself to soak in all of the experience and live within the moment. Once we arrived at our next accommodation spot in Takoradi, I remember whipping out a camera that a close friend let me borrow and started snapping away at everything I saw. Never in my life had I experienced true authentic culture of that magnitude and it truly did something to my heart, mind, body, and soul.

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After getting settled, I promised that I would go out and find some roads or trails for me to run on (a summer routine I developed over the past few years in which I run three miles per week). Once I familiarized myself with the trails surrounding the guest house, (which were often dirt paths and hills) I savored every moment taking in the sights and appreciating nature at its finest. On my nightly runs there was a song by Kanye West and Kid Cudi called “Kids See Ghosts” that I played religiously. And sometimes by coincidence and sometimes by choice the track would blare through my headphones on one of my trails as I took in the scenery of the village from a high altitude. Personally, I felt as if the song was the soundtrack to life in Ghana and the continent of Africa as a whole. Especially, during a refrain in which the featured guest artist, Mos Def says, “Civilization, without society/Power and wealth with nobility/Stability, without stasis/Places and spaces”. The first few times I ran and heard the song, it felt good just listening to the tribal rhythm of the song. But it wasn’t until my third or fourth listening to it on one of my daily runs in which I realized that the song was a vivid reflection of everything that I had been internalizing on that hill and throughout the trip in general. I think the idea of civilization existing without society is a beautiful thing. Or in my perspective, a community that exists in which there isn’t pressure to be politically correct or forced to adhere to the expectations of a society. Seeing Ghanaians in their natural environment allowed me to see people that co-existed peacefully no matter the religion they followed (Christianity or Islam) or sizes of their body. I saw civilians that were just that. Civil in how they sold, marketed and distributed their own goods. Picked their own crops. Built their own houses. Cut their own weeds. All without direct control, pestering or surveillance of the government. It was certainly refreshing to see and made me realize how simple living can be. If only this could ring true in certain parts of the western hemisphere.

Lastly, having the opportunity to visit a few schools to work, collaborate, observe, question and engage teachers was an experience I’ll never forget. From the structure of a daily school day, to the recesses in which students were free to run without a care in the world truly made me evaluate the education system in America and what we could do to be as structured, focused, on-task and engaged with school. I’m not saying that Ghana has a perfect education system, far from it. What I’m saying is that it’s a shame that a country considered to be third-world holds such an immense value and appreciation for education. From the headmasters/mistresses, teachers, all the way down to the students themselves. It leads me to wonder the many flaws in U.S. Education as well as how we as a people interact with students as parents and faculty. Do I have an answer to this dilemma? Of course not, as it is without a doubt a systemic issue that we as a country have to bring to light and discuss openly. Nonetheless, if Ghana with its limited resources can get this done then I’m sure that in America we can begin taking the right steps to get this done as well.

 

Appreciation. That is the word I feel most connected to when I think about my time spent in Ghana working with teachers, students, and observing civilization there in general. I’ll never forget that I saw two boys on my last conference day holding hands walking on school grounds as the day ended. I’ll never forget that I saw a classroom of students be in awe as they gathered in a computer lab that had only two computers and revel in its appearance and functions. Lastly, I’ll never forget how kind the people of Ghana treated me. From the teachers, the cities I visited (Takoradi, Accra, Cape Coast) and the fact that I got a chance to return to the site in which my ancestors were captured more than four centuries ago. I remember running into a group of young men down in the Cape Coast and one of them at a party on a Friday evening told me, “Welcome back brother Kevin. America is where you live and were forced as your people were displaced but this is your home. Welcome home.” And with that being said, I couldn’t have agreed with a much better statement and personal lesson. I was home. A moment in time that I’ll never forget.

 

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KEVIN ANGLADE is the author of mercy for murder(s) in brooklyn, a detective fiction novel. He was featured on NBC’s The Debrief with David Ushery in 2014 where he provided insight and purpose about small-press publishing. Anglade holds an A.S. in Theatre, (Queensborough Community College) a B.A. in English (Brooklyn College) and an M.A. in English (Queens College). He currently teaches 7th & 8th grade English Language Arts in Hartford, Connecticut and is the author of the poetry collection “Life Comes From Concrete”: a poetry memoir (2016).

Find him online at:

http://www.kevinanglade.com

Twitter/IG: @velevek