It has been almost 40 years since I began my professional career as a teacher.
That first job was in the South Bronx, New York City in the newly created city school district #12.
I remember driving to the school from Long Island that first morning in September, 1972.
I felt as if I had driven into a foreign country.
Buildings were on fire, a rancid small permeated the air and dead dogs were rotting in the middle of the street.
I didn't persevere due to any sense of community outreach.
I needed the $37.50 per Diem that was promised to me on Court Street at the NYC Board of Education headquarters.
The school was new and the neighborhood was charred.
It had been inspired by California's open school philosophy, with a minimum of walls and structure.
Those who had decided on this format for IS 84, needed to be sent to the funny farm.
What I found that first morning was a school in chaos with new structure.
I was assigned to teach Spanish,
This would have been fine, but I had no knowledge of Spanish.
The principal told me that she would let it pass.
Now I knew she was out of her mind as well.
Teachers had tried to create a structured classroom rather than an open classroom.
Desks had been placed at either end of the room to be used to simulate walls.
Portable writing boards separated one open classroom from the next.
I was speaking to my class of Spanish students, trying to explain how I was going to teach them their native language without knowing the language myself, when a battery came whizzing past my right ear.
It had been thrown from several "open" classrooms down the hall.
I had entered the Twilight Zone of Education.
Did they truly expect to inspire kids in this chamber of horrors?
Almost 40 years later have things changed in the South Bronx?
You tell me.
I will tell you this.
I have taught kids how to change their futures by digging out from their circumstances.
I teach them how to write a single cogent paragraph.
Once they can write a strong paragraph, they can take on the world.
They use my mental imagery system to build a treasury of words.
Equipped with a prodigious vocabulary and newly acquired writing skills, the confidence of each student soars.
They begin to read their paragraphs out loud.
Word recognition scores multiply exponentially.
Reading scores soar.
Students become more comfortable in their presentation and public speaking skills.
All from the power of the paragraph.
My purpose in life is to teach my paragraph philosophy to kids seeking their dream in America,
I believe this simple educational tool can be the great educational leveler.
President Clinton once said:
I have figured out that babies are all born the same. It's what happens to you along the process of your life that makes the difference in who you are. Education is a great leveler.
Along with my groundbreaking work in the field of vocabulary visualization, which I fully developed at Deerborne Prep School in Coral Gables in the 1970's, I believe. I have come across the specific tool not designated within his quote.
Education as the great leveler is not specific enough.
Vocabulary, reading, writing and public speaking skills.
Those are specific tools clearly understood by all educators.
It starts with a simple paragraph.
I have taught my formula to thousands of students.
Now, I turn to others and ask for you to join me.
Will you join me in helping Americans improve their communication skills in order that they can have the opportunity to follow their life purpose?
You don't have to visualize the finish line.
I can't see that far down the road either.
Just say that you will join me at the starting gate.
Maybe you will help me raise awareness.
Maybe you will send emails.
Maybe you will help me raise money for our journey.
Maybe you will teach right along side me.
I know this.
Educating America one paragraph at a time has become my life purpose.
And I have been at it for almost 40 years.
It has made a difference in the lives of many.
But it is not enough.
Not nearly enough.
So I ask you again.
Will you join me?
Take the first step today and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Today, we have begun building a team that can make a difference.
If you are on twitter follow me twitter.com/stevetarde
If you are on facebook, friend me at facebook.com/steve.tarde
You will hear from me soon about what you can do to join our educational movement.
Together, we can make some changes in American education.
One paragraph at a time.