Principal Johnson: Asking a principal for advice

Its been a while since I’ve done a real post. These last 6 weeks have been kind of crazy. I’ve been in NYC for about 3 weeks, and tomorrow marks the second full week of full time grad classes.

During our fellowship orientation we got a visit from an amazing school principal and NYCTF alum. He came to welcome us fellows, give us a true picture of the NYC education landscape, and real ways we could make an impact at our schools as new special education teachers. Homie had a line, about 20 people deep to speak to him after he finished his comments. So, I decided to send him an email to see what type of tips/suggestions he would give to someone like me.


Now I’ve done this a few times before… to a few men I’ve met professionally and I’ve never gotten a reply. Regardless of if this gets a reply or not, when I become an old head – No excuses, I always have to reply when a new dude comes on the scene and reaches out to me for advice.

– – – – – – –

Hello Principal Johnson,

My name is … I was in attendance when you spoke to LIU’s Teaching Fellows cohort last week. It was a pleasure having you speak to us. I took a lot of what you said to heart. A few things I pulled from my notes are:

  • As special educators it is our job to show our children different ways to access their academic knowledge
  • Asking your teachers to continue to grow and stretch themselves, similar to the ways we ask our students
  • Refusing to give your misbehaving seniors public praise, but celebrating them privately for taking care of their academics

I’m a recent transplant to NYC from Boston. Week two of the fellowship has been challenging, frustrating, exhausting, and most of all fulfilling. As you can assume I’m new to being a teacher. I was wondering if you could give me some incite on how I can keep my idealism, and goal to change the way our children grow up thinking about themselves and their possibilities. I completely understand that you’re busy with your school, your research, etc… None the less, as your schedule permits, I would really be honored to receive a piece of your feedback as I begin this journey.


Thanks in advance,

PS: I’m really inspired by your story, and hope that one day I can be able to have a similar impact in our urban communities

One chapter closes, as another one begins

I know it’s been a while since Ive posted. Life has been a flash of organized chaos these past few weeks. I decided to shared final letter to my coworkers and students with you all. It was hard to write, and I don’t think it really encompasses just how important all of these people are to me. But, overall it’s what I was able to say in my final minutes at YouthBuild USA.

Tomorrow me and my pops are off to NYC. I’ve known since February 20 that this day would come where new adventure and a ton of readings, late night study sessions, and poorness await. Ready tho! 🙂


To: The entire staff, and all of the student/graduate councils I have worked with

From: Me


It’s about that time everyone,

I’m horrible at goodbyes, so I’m going to keep this as short and sweet as possible. It has truly been MY pleasure working here at YouthBuild USA for the past 34 months. I’m at a loss for words right now, and kind of don’t believe that my time here is coming to an end. None the less, I never imagined that I would be able to learn and experience so much in such a short amount of time. Every single experience here has been a chance for me to find out more about myself, and my passions for education and helping people help themselves.

For those of you that don’t know, I have been offered the chance to take part in the New York City Teaching Fellows. NYCTF is an alternative teaching certificate program that helps professionals shift into education careers by providing them with the training and resources necessary to receive their teaching certifications, and places them in high needs schools and subject areas to help close the achievement gap in many of the city’s urban/low income communities. The fellowship will prepare me to teach my very own Special Education classroom (Middle/High School level) in the New York City Public Schools, Brooklyn to be exact. I will also be taking courses at Long Island University – Brooklyn campus toward my Masters of Science in Education with a concentration in Teaching Urban Adolescents with Disabilities, Generalist Grades 7-12.

I feel strangely at peace as I get ready to move on to my new adventure, and it is only because of the preparation I have received through YouthBuild.

YouthBuild USA and Program Staff – I have never met a more diverse, down to earth, and creative group of people in my life. Anything is possible when it is in your hands! I respect you all, and wish you nothing but prosperity, peace, and happiness in your lives.

YouthBuild Students and Alumni – I am forever humbled by your intelligence, patience, sense of community, and ability to welcome a complete outsider into your midst. You all have been the greatest teachers, mentors, thought partners, brainstormers, problem solvers, brothers/sisters, and friends anyone could ask for. Working with you all has been the single most important highlight of my life! I love you all, and it’s because you all loved me more!

The next few years will be a whirlwind of lesson plans, Individual Education Plans, student assessments, night-time and weekend grading, and of course a full load of graduate courses. However, I want you all to know that I’m only an email or phone call away. It’s very cliché, but once in YouthBuild always in YouthBuild! Please don’t hesitate to stay in contact with me 🙂 I’ve included all of my personal contact information below.

YouthBuild it’s been real! Thank you for helping me become the person I’ve needed to be!