With the building of a new small and selective high school on Manhattan’s Brandeis campus, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein proposed on Tuesday to have it named after Frank McCourt, renowned author and educator.
“Frank McCourt was a remarkable writer, but I believe he achieved his greatest impact as a New York City public school teacher for 29 years,” Chancellor Klein said in a news release.
McCourt, who passed away on July 19, 2009 at age 78, was best known as the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir ‘Angela’s Ashes.’ His last book, ‘Teacher Man,’ reflects McCourt’s impressive honesty in documenting his surprises, trials, happiness, and confusion as a new teacher.
“On the first day of my teaching career, I was almost fired for eating the sandwich of a high school boy. On the second day I was almost fired for mentioning the possibility of friendship with a sheep,” McCourt wrote.
Later on, McCourt was repeatedly fired because he talked back to his superiors, which ironically led him to teach at New York’s most esteemed school, Stuyvesant High School, where he retired in 1987.
Over the years, he created an impact on his students through creative assignments, including writing an excuse note from Adam or Eve to God, sing-alongs featuring recipe ingredients as lyrics.
“Mr. McCourt’s story of facing adversity and rising up against formidable challenges will continue to serve as an inspiration for our city’s young men and women for many years to come,” said New York State Senator Eric Schneiderman.
The new school came into shape with year-long joint efforts between officials, parents, and the Department of Education.
It will open in September 2010 to ninth graders, with other grades joining in annually until the school serves the full complement of high school grades beginning in the 2013-14 school year.
“This is an exciting day for all those who have fought to ensure that we have education that matters at Brandeis,” said U.S. Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY). “I can't think of a better way to remember the life of Frank McCourt—not just a Pulitzer Prize winner, but a longtime public school teacher and child of immigrant parents—than to create this school in his honor.
“Our City and our nation need more places like these, centers of excellence and learning that are dedicated to teaching their diverse student body, not just how to have a career in words, but to be expert advocates who use their pens to make a difference and like McCourt, change the world for the better.”