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DRAFT - Q&A with Aaron Schwartz | Acting Director of Continuous Improvement @ ACCESS BCO & REC Site Supervisor

posted Aug 14, 2020, 7:07 AM by   [ updated Aug 14, 2020, 7:31 AM ]

Welcome to the first interview in this new series from OFDC - The Connective Tissue: Stories from OFDC - where we talk with educators and administrators across our vertical to learn more about their service to our 1,600 schools, 1.1 million students and their families across the City.

Name: Aaron Schwartz
Role: Acting Director of Continuous Improvement
Communities Served: ACCESS Schools TKTKTKTK
Years in Education:

OFDC:  Hi Aaron, thank you for participating in this interview series! Before we get started, how has your day been? How is the summer going at your REC site?
Aaron: This has been transformative for me, and I have reconsidered my entire rest of career - I have fallen in love with being a school leader again. [As REC Site Supervisor] I have had the ability to work with five city agencies this year. Our site has over kids and we have designed a project-based learning curriculum for the summer. We have an amazing group of teachers - aides and paraprofessionals - who have never taught before. One long-term project has been, "Our Life as a Quilt.' It is aligned to literacy standards and starts with students writing an essay and then making a quilt based on the essay. Everyone at our REC joined in, even the adults.

OFDC: How long have you been an educator? What was your first role?
Aaron: I've been doing this for over 20 years. I started teaching as a mid-year replacement. 

OFDC: What inspired you to become an educator?
Aaron: When I was young, I loved school. I loved high school and middle school and I knew I would go to college and be a diplomat. But I wasn't prepared. I worked as a chef, in the military, in trucking. Then I went back to school and at 30, I was an associate professor at Brooklyn College and going to Yale University for to study philosophy. I had friends teaching in East New York and South Brooklyn. I started to feel self-indulgent to leading this life. So I changed course, and started teaching math. I fell in love with teaching. I felt that if you can do a difficult job you have a moral obligation to do that job. 

OFDC: Which neighborhoods do you primarily serve? What do you love about them?
Aaron: support the Superintendent of of Transfer High Schools. Our schools are for over-age and under-credited students who don't fit in in other situations and are really looking to complete their education. Yuet, Tim and Paul - we do super important work. Our principals are top notch - they are designing targeted solutions for individual children

OFDC: How has your experiences supporting transfer schools and at the ACCESS BCO influenced your work supervising a REC site?
Aaron: I had senior leadership support to volunteer to also supervise and support a REC site. We take care of the kids of first responders. [TKTKTKTKTK] Because of COVID-19, it has been reported that children will lose 7 months of education, but children of color - black and brown children - will lose 10 months. I'm working to ensure that won't happen at our REC. Our teachers, both remote and in-classrooms, are interactive and hands on. It's what we love.

I have been trying to achieve the same experiences for HS students in the south Bronx and east NY - alt experiences, getting them to college that will allow them to go wherever they want - I didn't know such an organization existed, I just wonder - we service people from 2 months to 92 years - LYFE centers and oldest adult graduate is 92 and we have fabulous #s for increasing the educational outcomes for kids - measurable and there - there are negative trends all across the DOE - 

OFDC: What is the best piece of advice or lesson you have learned from a colleague, mentor, student, or parent?
Aaron: Tony Wagner wrote about the workplace - work-life isn’t' going to be linear - the tracks of linear projections - from the time of 14 to retire and might have worked 2 or 3 places - the average person now high 20s or 30s jobs - go to school and certification, may need to go back to school, open business, etc. - access is creative to individual desires and needs of our children 

Parents Work on the Front Lines. Where Do Their Children Go All Day? | The New York Times