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Teacher
Two Years in the Mississippi Delta

By Michael Copperman

220 pages, 6 x 9 inches

9781496805850 Cloth $25.00T

Cloth, $25.00

A MESMERIZING ACCOUNT OF THE REALITIES OF WORKING WITH TEACH FOR AMERICA IN ONE OF THE COUNTRY'S POOREST AND MOST CHALLENGED REGIONS

When Michael Copperman left Stanford University for the Mississippi Delta in 2002, he imagined he would lift underprivileged children from the narrow horizons of rural poverty. Well-meaning but nai?ve, the Asian American from the West Coast soon lost his bearings in a world divided between black and white. He had no idea how to manage a classroom or help children navigate the considerable challenges they faced. In trying to help students, he often found he couldn't afford to give what they required--sometimes, with heartbreaking consequences. His desperate efforts to save child after child were misguided but sincere. He offered children the best invitations to success he could manage. But he still felt like an outsider who was failing the children and himself.

Teach For America has for a decade been the nation's largest employer of recent college graduates but has come under increasing criticism in recent years even as it has grown exponentially. This memoir considers the distance between the idealism of the organization's creed that "One day, all children will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education" and what it actually means to teach in America's poorest and most troubled public schools.

Copperman's memoir vividly captures his disorientation in the divided world of the Delta, even as the author marvels at the wit and resilience of the children in his classroom. To them, he is at once an authority figure and a stranger minority than even they are--a lone Asian, an outsider among outsiders. His journey is of great relevance to teachers, administrators, and parents longing for quality education in America. His frank story shows that the solutions for impoverished schools are far from simple.

From 2002 to 2004, MICHAEL COPPERMAN, Eugene, Oregon, taught fourth grade in the rural black public schools of the Mississippi Delta with Teach For America. Now, he teaches writing to low-income, first-generation college students of diverse backgrounds at the University of Oregon. His work has appeared in the Sun, the Oxford-American, Guernica, Creative Nonfiction, and Copper Nickel, and has garnered fellowships and awards from the Munster Literature Center, the Oregon Arts Commission, Literary Arts, and Bread Loaf Writers Conference.

220 pages, 6 x 9 inches