Work Hard. Be Nice.: How Two Inspired Teachers Created the Most Promising Schools in America

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9781565125162: Work Hard. Be Nice.: How Two Inspired Teachers Created the Most Promising Schools in America

When Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin signed up for Teach for America right after college and found themselves utter failures in the classroom, they vowed to remake themselves into superior educators. They did that-and more. In their early twenties, by sheer force of talent and determination never to take no for an answer, they created a wildly successful fifth-grade experience that would grow into the Knowledge Is Power Program (Kipp), which today includes sixty-six schools in nineteen states and the District of Columbia. Kipp schools incorporate what Feinberg and Levin learned from America's best, most charismatic teachers: lessons need to be lively; school days need to be longer (the Kipp day is nine and a half hours); the completion of homework has to be sacrosanct (Kipp teachers are available by telephone day and night). Chants, songs, and slogans such as "Work hard, be nice" energize the program. Illuminating the ups and downs of the Kipp founders and their students, Mathews gives us something quite rare: a hopeful book about education.

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About the Author:

JAY MATHEWS covers education for the Washington Post and has created Newsweek's annual Best High Schools rankings. He has won the Benjamin Fine Award for Outstanding Education Reporting for both features and column writing and is the author of six previous books, including Escalante: The Best Teacher in America, about the teacher who was immortalized in the movie Stand and Deliver.

From AudioFile:

During their first teaching assignment in Houston, two freshly minted educators, unhappy with the way underperforming students were served, invented an alternative model, which they've exported to school systems across the country. This account of the KIPP teaching system they developed is less a discussion of their educational methods than the heartwarming story of their commitment, hard work, and respect for students and families. Along with a fascinating palette of tone and phrasing variations, Paul Boehmer's performance adds a fitting amount of admiration for the authors' achievements. His warmth and vocal skills keep the narrative from losing momentum when its focus blurs or the writing needs to be condensed. T.W. © AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine

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