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Dear Director of Admissions, A Grad School Production

Dear Director of Admissions, A Grad School Production:

A Follow Up Letter For Future Grad School Enrollment

The following is a letter I sent to a graduate school advisor shortly after attending the Idealist Graduate School College Fair in the city. This letter has been sitting in draft for about 1.5 years now. I want to say I sent this to the advisor I met from an ivy institution. Its been so long that I can’t clearly remember. I was exploring my negotiation skills. Hoping that if I reached out with my needs he would try to meet me halfway.



Dear Director of Graduate Admissions,

It was an honor to meet you at the Idealist Grad School Fair. I really appreciated your time, and thoughtful responses to my questions. I wanted to reach out to follow up with some more thoughtful inquiries I had about the program there at your [Graduate School of Education] (GSE). I apologize for the length here, but I wanted to convey a clearer picture of who I am as a potential GSE student.

Personal Vision:

I’m currently working in NYC Department of Education as a High School Special Education Teacher. I’m in my third year in the classroom, and have recently finished my Masters of Urban Education (Special Education Instruction) coursework at Long Island University, Brooklyn. I’m also the elected Union Chapter Leader (United Federation of Teachers) for my school building and team. Currently my biggest challenge is building a cohesive and trusting team of teachers, and driving effective and collaborative communications between my school’s administration and its teaching staff, through the education and implementation of our collectively bargained contract agreement.

Prior to this, I worked in the non-profit sector doing leadership development work and postsecondary education technical assistance for YouthBuild USA. I entered YouthBuild as an Americorps Vista as a midwestern transplant eager to relocate to the east coast and enter the professional world. Youthbuild is an international network of community programs working to provide academic, vocational, and service learning experience to young marginalized students in economically unstable communities around the globe. There, I traveled around the country and for three years worked to organize the program’s alumni, student-leadership representatives, and program staff via postsecondary access and best practice conferences.

In the distant future, I see myself working with philanthropic foundations and citizens to help craft targeted and developmental community programs and initiatives within marginalized communities. I also would like to open a leadership academy of my own, to help develop budding community and social development educators, organizer, and activists.

In the near future, I see myself running effective and innovative community and academic development programs for municipal governments targeted to their marginalized citizens. I would spend my time writing, and running workshops at various professional development conferences, and engaging in research and application development through on -the-ground community and mentoring programs.

I’ve included some questions I have about your graduate school experience. Maybe we can set up a phone conference to discuss some of the topics?



  1. How can I get the most out of your GSE program?

Personal Experience:

  1. What would you have done differently during your time as a GSE student?
  2. What made you a strong student for GSE and through GSE?

Cultural Diversity:

  1. As an educator, historical perspective in connection with culturally dominant educational theory is an area of macro-level focus via my pedagogy. To your knowledge, have people of color expressed any doubt or second thoughts about attending a graduate school there? How does the university address the importance of incorporating a diverse, culturally well-rounded and respectful perspective into its curriculum and assessment practices?
  2. What makes your GSE the strongest place to get this education for me as a Black and Male scholar? Why your school over Harvard? Howard? NYU? Brown?


  1. Growing up, my most meaningful and immersive experiences have come when I’m engaged in a cohort learning model. What would the African American Male population look like in my cohort if I were to take classes at your GSE? How does the GSE work to create a strong cohort experience for its students at-large?

Alumni Organization(s) and Engagement:

  1. What student organizations/alumni associations would I have access to, or be able to engage with for mentorship purposes? In addition, what orgs and associations would I be able to volunteer my time and skills to?


  1. What are some of the strengths of the school’s library/knowledge banks?

Career/Internship Experiences:

  1. What type of career and internship options have been made available to students upon completion of the program?




Yes, the search has begun again for another… new training program. 

I’m focused man.

Understanding the importance of language diversity in classrooms


Understanding the importance of language diversity in classrooms

One of the classes I’m taking this semester is called Literacy and Language. My class is full of 2nd and 3rd year teaching fellows and from the gate we’ve been having interesting conversations about misconceptions and perhaps even missed opportunities to support our students in developing both the language(s) of their home (generally referred to as a dialect of “standard” English) and the language of school and the workforce (generally referred to as “standard” English). One of the early conversations in the class focused on the desire to teach Black and Latino students what has unfortunately become referred to as “Standard” English. I refuse to call it standard, and have relied on calling it “Professional” English, although even that is a bit misleading in it’s title. Basically the argument is – Are we setting these minority students up for failure if we don’t teach and heavily influence them to use the “standard” English that most of us in the working world have come to understand.

SkoolHaze rhetoric

As a Black man I’m a bit conflicted on where I stand with this. On one had there is very distinct way that I communicate when I’m in a professional setting. It’s a guise that I don’t think I have ever really let fall anytime I’m ever with anyone who I consider a work-related acquaintance. Some call it code-switching, at the end of the day I call it my professionalism. However, I’m also fully aware that the moment I’m with a member of my old communities whether it be family, friends, old teammates, frat brothers, I immediately fall into a more relaxed communication style.

I don’t want to get too stuck in the details because in a way they’re unimportant. However what is important is the impromptu conversation I had with a former linguistics student. Part of the way I publicize SkoolHaze is through an ever-growing network of Facebook groups – many of which are education focused. After our first Literacy class session I was really curious what Black Educators/Scholars had to say about… cultural differences in language and how to best use what is known to our students benefit.

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I got a lot of great feedback on potential resources which I’ll include in a future post once I’m sure I’ve compiled them all. However the best nugget was a conversation I had with Mario: