Cover image for Small victories : the real world of a teacher, her students, and their high school
Title:
Small victories : the real world of a teacher, her students, and their high school
Author:
Freedman, Samuel G.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Physical Description:
xii, 431 pages ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Personal Subject:
Corporate Subject:
ISBN:
9780060162542
Format :
Book

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LD7501.N525 F74 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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LD7501.N525 F74 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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LD7501.N525 F74 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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LD7501.N525 F74 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

Small Victories is Samuel Freedman's remarkable story of life on the front lines in the sort of high school that seems like a disaster with walls--old, urban, overcrowded, and overwhelmingly minority. Seaward Park High School, on Manhattan's Lower East Side, has been ranked among the worst 10 percent of high schools in the state--yet 92 percent of its graduates go on to higher education. The reason is dedicated teachers, one of whom, English instructor Jessica Siegel, is the subject of Freedman's unforgettably dramatic humanization of the education crisis. Following Siegel through the 1987-88 academic year, Freedman not only saw a master at work but learned from the inside just how a school functions against impossible odds. Small Victories alternates Jessica's experiences with those of others at Seaward Park, and as we cone to know intimately a number of the astonishing students and staff, Small Victories reveals itself as a book that has the power to change the way we see our world.


Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Freedman spent the 1987-88 school year following teacher Jessica Siegel, her students, and her colleagues at Seward Park High School, considered among the worst in New York State. What emerges is Freedman's strong conviction that one person can make a difference--and a compelling argument that merely reforming education will not solve the problems of inner-city children. The primary focus of the book is on Siegel's teaching methods, which include gaining knowledge of her students' lives outside the school. Perhaps due to this, 90 percent of Siegel's students go on to college or some type of higher education. A natural complement to Tracy Kidder's Among Schoolchildren [BKL Aug 89], this powerful book about learning and human potential belongs in every education and sociology collection. Bibliography. --Jill Sidoti


Publisher's Weekly Review

A year in the life of a dedicated urban high school teacher and her students is chronicled in this unsentimental yet moving portrait. Jessica Siegel, who was raised in New Jersey, came to Seward Park High School on Manhattan's lower East Side endowed with an intellectual heritage of Jewish liberalism that would have been familiar in those same streets a century earlier, when Jacob Riis and others worked with a different immigrant population. The composition of the class of 1988, for whom Siegel labored as teacher of English and journalism, is chiefly Hispanic, black and Asian. Members of a new underclass, they are housed in a crumbling school building where student failure is rampant. As Freedman, a former New York Times reporter, shadows Siegel, we see the teacher bicycling to work each day, meeting with students whose private lives are chaotic, too often filled with violence and loss. We share her ``small victories'': getting a senior class to read The Great Gatsby ; encouraging college aspirations. A primary ``defeat'' is Siegel's withdrawal from the trenches of teaching at the year's end. 50,000 first printing; $75,000 ad/promo; first serial to McCall's, Teacher magazine and Savvy; film option to Twentieth Century-Fox; QPB and Education Book Club alternates; BOMC and Reader's Digest Condensed Books selections; author tour. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

This engrossing narrative of one year in the life of New York City's Seward Park High School will bring ``bravos'' from all readers. Freedman's approach in depicting the daily activities of one teacher--Jessica Siegel--and the students, faculty, parents, and administrators who touch her life is forthright and honest. Siegel's self-doubts, triumphs, and unfailing desire to lead her students to help themselves out of a life of poverty is all the more inspiring because, even though the victories may be small, she returns each year to meet the same situations, with new faces. While Tracy Kidder's Among Schoolchildren ( LJ 8/89) depicts similar situations with elementary school children, Small Victories is a more powerful, damning indictment of the intellectual, racial, and educational prejudice wrought by the ``system.'' Perhaps Freedman's title contains one answer to educational reform--``small victories'' won by dedicated teachers, with the emphasis on ``dedicated.'' A memorable book.-- Annelle R. Huggins, Memphis State Univ. Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

Freedman (free-lance journalist and former New York Times reporter) records his observations of an academic year (1987-88) spent at Seward Park High School, a largely minority immigrant high school in lower Manhattan. The narrative centers about Jessica Siegel, an English and journalism teacher at Seward. It is a richly textured account that uses Siegel "with the intention of widening my aperture to include many teachers, students, and administrators," and, as a participant observer. Freedman is singularly successful. Journalistic accounts of US schools are not without precedent--as a genre, they begin with the work of the physician-journalist Joseph M. Rice, whose sensational exposures of US urban schools were published in The Forum in October 1892 to June 1893, and then culminate in the lugubrious portraits of Jonathan Kozol's Death at an Early Age (CH, Jun'68). Freedman is not a reformer, however, and this volume is a highly subjective portrait that draws its strength from situational and character poignancy and from Freedman's literary skills. A caveat: some of Freedman's observations on immigrant children in the period of the great migrations are faulty; better sources are Stephan F. Brumberg's Going to America, Going to School (CH, Jul'86), and Leonard Covello's The Social Background of the Italo-American School Child (CH, Jun'73). The success of Central American immigrant children in American schools is not surprising. This success has been documented in Marcello M. Suarez-Orozco's Central American Refugees and U.S. High Schools (CH, Nov'89). General readers. -F. Cordasco, Montclair State College