Hold Fast to Dreams: A College Guidance Counselor, His Students, and the Vision of a Life Beyond Poverty

Beth Zasloff and Joshua Steckel. New Press, $25.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-59558-904-0
Steckel was a college counselor at an Upper East Side private school, but left that plum job to make a difference by helping kids at the other end of the socioeconomic spectrum get access to college. Writing with Zasloff (his wife and coauthor of Hope, Not Fear: A Path to Jewish Renaissance), Steckel looks at the lives of 10 students he's helped get to college since he joined the staff of the Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies in 2009. Some students have been harassed by both cops and gang members, have spent their lives in and out of homeless shelters, and have gone to bed hungry on more than one occasion. Coupled with administrative indifference and intimidating applications, it's not surprising to learn why some students opted for the path of least resistance. Still, there are bright spots: some students are inspired to change, while others find themselves thriving beyond their imagination in their new academic environment. The book's main problem is that the profiles come across as a retelling of the Great White Hope striding into the ghetto to save minorities. Less cynical readers will find this to be a probing, inspiring, and well-rounded account. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/23/2013
Release date: 03/01/2014
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Book - 978-1-59558-928-6
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