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Justen’s Story.

I graduated from the university of New Hampshire in 2005, with a degree in English Teaching. I spent my subsequent years thoroughly enjoying World of Warcraft, where I squandered three years of my early to mid 20’s. I moved to California out of boredom where I applied to be a substitute teacher. I met my wife there and eventually we moved back to New Hampshire and had a child, Atticus. Once my son was born, A fire was lit in me. I got a job working for Making Community Connections Charter school in Manchester. Because I hadn’t applied my degree as of this time, I felt out of practice. MC2 did wonders for me because they were able to mold me into a free thinking and very creative teacher, rather than one jaded by the public school system. I really appreciate the pedagogy I am learning here at my school. Our school is competency based, not based on time in the seat. Essentially what this means is that students need to demonstrate proficiency through evidence of their understanding rather then just be present in the chair while the instructor is teaching. Because of this, students become the “driver” of their

Learning how to crack the code on Algebra

In 8th grade, I was enrolled in Algebra 1 at Coronado Middle School in Kansas City, KS without progressing through the standard channels. The adverse experience of working under the tutelage of a horrible teacher, yet, working with my mother on math problems until 3:00 am, extracted a level of resilience that had never surfaced prior to that school year. Now, 27 years later, I serve as the Math/Science Teacher Leader at my high school alma mater.

Literacy is Powerful

My name is Milton Whitley. I am 57 years old and until five years ago, could barely read or write. School was especially hard for me. The teacher used to spank me with a big stick when I didn’t know something. It put fear in my heart and made it hard for me to learn. People called me retarded. I believed I was retarded. I dropped out of school when I was 14. Didn’t know what to do because I couldn’t read or write. For a long time, I worked in a sign shop installing signs. But, when I hung these signs I didn’t even know what they were saying. If one letter was off, if it was spelled wrong, I didn’t even know. Not knowing how to read or write made everything difficult. It made me boil with anger inside. I was using drugs. I got with people just like me; used drugs; no education. I didn’t care about education. All I knew were slang words. Street language. One time, I was given a form to fill out at a doctor’s office. I couldn’t read a word. I sat in my chair staring at the paper for a long


Back home in Nigeria, I used to wake up as early as 5am, say the morning prayer with my family and head out to deliver crates of bottled soda (Coca-Cola and Limca products) to customers before heading to school. My mum was the owner of the business and I and my siblings had to help deliver the products to customers in other to make gain. This became my daily routine. School started by 8:30am, but sometimes, before I finish my morning routine and get to school, it was already 8:45 or 9am. This happened at least three times out of the five school days a week. In my secondary school (Christ the King College Onitsha) late coming is against the school rule and attracts punishment. My principal, Mr. Olisa, had a way of getting late comers. At the assembly ground, each class prefect would write down the names of students that attended the morning assembly. And if your name was not on the list, like mine sometimes, sorry for you. Mr. Olisa would lie in wait for late comers and lash them with a cain that we call KOBOKO. Getting the lashes made me think: ‘should I skip my morning

“You will hustle to your position every time”

“On the field!” It’s been twenty-five years, and I can still hear the growling voice of Coach Burkhead yelling at my teammates and me. “Off the field!” It was supposed to be a normal baseball practice with my Police Boys Club #8 team in Northwest DC. But Coach Burkhead spotted one of my teammates walking off the field in between innings of our previous game. Now, we all were paying for it. “On the field!” For the rest of the practice, Coach Burkhead had us sprint from the bench to our positions on the field, and then back again. Dozens — and dozens — and dozens of times. “Welcome to the real world, gentlemen,” he said at the end of practice. “You will hustle to your position every time.” Today, such behavior from a coach might prompt threats of a lawsuit from outraged parents. Back in the mid-1980s it was what you came to expect from Coach Burkhead. He was an institution within Police Boys Club #8. A gruff, thickly-built cop, he intimidated younger kids who had yet to have him as a coach and inspired devotion among older players who had survived a year or two on his team.

Always have faith!

One of the most important things I have learned is to never give up and to always believe in yourself. I have experienced this many times, but there is one instance which has really thought me the true meaning of it. While in my freshman year of high school, I had some trouble to deal with. My school days consisted of write-up after write-up. I was asked to apprehend my cellular device but refused to. One thing led to another and soon I was suspended from school. This got me very behind in school and made me fail big tests and quizzes because I didn’t know the material that was needed to pass. I was suspended more than once over a long period of time. Some of my teachers would send work home that I was asked to do and turn back in, but not all of my teachers and classes did this, which brought my grade average way down. I finally realized I had to achieve good grades to get promoted to the next grade level; I was going to have to make big and great changes. I started putting my cell phone up and paying attention in school.

There will be noise

When I was about 11 years old, I listened to some pretty cool music. I loved jazz and metal. While I was getting into music, my sister was dating a musician. He always brought his guitar over, and played the music I loved. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. Around the same time my mom signed me up for guitar lessons in Athens at Music Exchange. After taking lessons for a while, I realized that it was getting nowhere, and that my teacher was horrible. I still had a strong desire to do music though. After quitting my lessons, I started purchasing guitar technique books. They taught me a lot. I also would watch legendary guitarists such as: Tosin Abasi, Misha Mansoor, and Paul Gilbert. They would break down how to do certain things on their videos. After all the years of studying technique, I met a producer from Atlanta. We quickly started writing jams and recording rough stuff. He introduced me to a form of electronic music which I loved from the second I heard it. I quickly learned to make and produce this music. I took a break from my recording days, and joined

Learning To Learn

I believe the most important thing to learn is to learn how to learn. I’ve been in school for ten years and from my experience with my studies I realize that I would be no where if I didn’t know how to successfully learn. I remember very vividly a time when learning was key to moving forward. I was in the sixth grade and the end of the year was coming fast, my grades were slowly slipping I didn’t know what to do. I desperately needed help so I decided to stay afterschool and go in for help. My teacher knew exactly what to do; she took it back to the very beginning and asked me a deep question; what is learning? Seeing as how I couldn’t answer the question, she told me the answer. She told me that learning is taking skills and utilizing them to make them stick. A now easy simple question led to conversation which went deeper and deeper, making me think harder than ever. After that day my grades went up, my attitude changed and I realized what I needed to do; I need to gain more knowledge. I need to learn more. This experience

Writing Comes In Handy

My most important thing learned in life it is writing. Because every day you always have to write something. Also you need to learn how to type on a computer. When I was in the first grade I wanted to write a letter to my mom and I didn’t know how to spell some of the words. Which made it really hard and to top it off I just learned how to write in general so that made it tougher. So I had to get my first grade teacher to help me and it just made the process a lot harder and longer! It took me about almost a whole week to just write a note to my mom. It wasn’t even a long on or that hard of one, it was just something that I wanted to do since it was my first letter to anyone and I wanted it to be to my mom. When I was a little bit older I had to learn how to type. That was a good thing and that is the other best thing that I have learned in my life. Because there are a lot of people in the world that


My skill started when I first got my Playstation 3 for Christmas two years ago and I played by myself until I played against Travis Hill and got admitted in the 7o6 Playstation Network clan. Although he beat me thirty to twenty-one, he still thought that I was good enough to join. I didn’t always play with Travis on Playstation, it was maybe five months before I started playing with Travis, and I think that I got good enough by playing that time by myself, and I didn’t really know the meaning of teamwork at first and I quickly figured out that the 7o6 clan was a very teamwork-based clan, especially after I got chewed out by all of the other, more experienced members, but then I proved myself to the entire team by winning an important match against one of our rivals with a 4 v. 1 clutch (a clutch is just when a player by themselves beats at least four of the other players on the other team). The only reason that I chose this as the most important skill is because of the things that it taught me by playing with teamwork, which are basic things like

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