I teach reading. The gift is one of possibility and transformation; the capacity to imagine what has not yet come to be — for oneself, for others, for the world. And with imagination — with reading — all things are possible.
These words are a daily reminder of why I am passionate about teaching. Each morning, in the quiet and still classroom, moments before it is awakened by the excited frenzy of first period I see this quotation, taped to the inside of my desk. These words evoke my belief that to teach reading is to enable learners to confirm what they know about their worlds. To teach reading is to ignite curious minds, and encourage them to wonder about and create their own imaginative worlds. I teach because teaching provides me with the marvelous gift of traveling with students to and through these possible worlds. I am John DePasquale, and I am privileged to share this journey with you.
I am a public school teacher at Arts & Letters in Brooklyn, New York, where I work with students in fifth through eighth grades as a writing teacher and literacy specialist. At Arts & Letters, thoughtful and creative students explore their worlds at a school committed to promoting democratic ideals through public education. This commitment is reflected in the deliberately developed K-8 curriculum, which engages students through the convergence of academics, social-emotional development, and the arts. Reflecting the racial and economic diversity of Fort Greene, Brooklyn, the curriculum at Arts & Letters is strongly linked to the roles students play as members of a pluralistic society. As a result, we value and foster courageous, curious, and compassionate students.
I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a teacher, and after a decade of working with middle school students, I cannot think of a more fulfilling profession. I studied English education as an undergraduate at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, and shortly after began my career as a teacher with the New York City Department of Education. I developed a professional focus on literacy as a graduate student in the Transformative Literacy Program at CUNY City College, part of New York City’s public university system.
My education and classroom experiences continually teach me to value the voices and experiences of the young people with whom I work. Profound learning is possible when students are truly seen and heard in school. As a result of being seen and heard, it is possible for multiple dimensions of the whole child — emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical — to thrive in the classroom. I am a teacher committed to teaching for social justice, and I have found that students are incredible resources for making our world more fair. All students have a fundamental sense of fairness, and when their voices are heard, it is possible for them to be agents of meaningful positive change rooted in equality.
I love living and working in The Big Apple. With a place like New York, it’s no wonder I’m living for the city. Beyond the classroom, I enjoy urban explorations and biking throughout this ever-evolving and growing city. I appreciate, however, the times when I can escape the hurried pace, and check out completely on a beach, out of reach, somewhere very far away.
The journey with students to and through different worlds is one I am excited to share with you on this blog. Through this glimpse into my classroom, it is my hope that for our students we together can extend to them the gift of possibility and transformation..
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