ISA College Grads: A Living Legacy
By Dr. Stephanie Wood-Garnett
Brandon Baiden and Monica Moore are both 2008 alumni of ISA partner high schools, Queens High School of Teaching and Brooklyn Preparatory High School respectively. Baiden, a graduate of State University of New York at Stony Brook, is an assistant producer for the Wendy Williams Show. Moore, a graduate of DePauw University, is a first-grade teacher in Baltimore.
Monica Moore and Brandon Baiden are living proof that the type of high school education that you get can matter for a lifetime. Both of these outstanding young adults credit their experiences at ISA partner high schools with the opportunities that they have been able to take advantage of since high school graduation. Both emphatically believe that their school s strong academic program prepared them to do well in college and in their chosen careers. I hated middle school and was not a good middle school student, Baiden explains, but I loved everything about high school and was successful. If I had gone to the typical high school, I would not be where I am now. Moore, who was in the first class to graduate from Brooklyn Preparatory High School, agrees. I had a choice of high schools, and I am so glad that I made the best choice, she said.
Both of their high school experiences reflect one of the core principles of the ISA model, college preparatory teaching and learning for all students. Our teachers fully engaged us in the lessons each day, explains Baiden. As a high school student, I had to explain my actions and choices, design projects and presentations to demonstrate what I had learned and how I could apply that knowledge to solve problems or respond to situations. I am not the best test- taker, so it was very important to me to be able to demonstrate what I was learning in a variety of ways. Moore recalls how her high schools hands-on, inquiry-based approach to learning mathematics made a tremendous difference for her. We actually wrote a lot in math class, she said. The way that we were taught math helped me make sense of higher level mathematical concepts and see the connections to so many applications in the real world. Our teachers always helped us understand how to use a particular math skill or technique. If one method did not work, they would try another one. If we needed more time, or a different method of learning, that s what we got.
Each of them touts the importance of the strong, positive and trusting relationships that they had with their teachers as one of the most memorable aspects of their high school experience. These relationships were no happenstance. The ISA model calls for every student to have an advocate/advisor, with time built into the school day for teacher-led student advisories to meet one or more times per week. Additionally, a grade level team of core content -area teachers and a guidance counselor works with the same cohort of students all year and has a scheduled common planning time for each teacher team to problem-solve challenges, share best practices and stay abreast of each student s academic, social, and emotional wellbeing so that no student falls through the cracks. Moore stresses how critical the guidance of her high school teachers and counselors was in selecting the right college for her and navigating the college admissions process. They helped me complete each application and made sure that my application fees were paid. They worked with my parents also and took the time to identify any obstacles to my going to college and helped us problem solve to eliminate them as barriers, Moore recalls appreciatively.
Moore and Braiden have clear visions of their futures. Baiden sees himself as the next Ryan Seacrest. He began his career as an intern on The View, and in five years hopes to be a television producer; and in 10 years he wants to create and produce his own shows. Moore sees herself as an educator who creates the kind of schooling for her students that she received at Brooklyn Prep. I want to pass on to other children the sincere investment that was made in me. I want to expose my students to as much as possible so that they can create their own paths and succeed at whatever they want to do. There can be no doubt that they are both well on the way to their desired futures.