cover image Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher's First Year

Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher's First Year

Esme Raji Codell. Highbridge Company, $18.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-56511-336-7

Portions of Codell's diary of her experiences as a first-year teacher in a Chicago inner-city elementary school were first aired on WBEZ radio, in that city, as part of its Life Stories series. Subsequently rounded out into a book, the material still comes across like it's meant to be read aloud. Codell's voice carries the enthusiasm that--as a 24-year-old hardcore idealist--she brought to her difficult job. Hired for a brand-new school, she tells how she let her ""na vet "" work to her own advantage. She invented ways to engage her troubled, sometimes hostile students, relying on jerry-rigged visual aids, group craft projects, role-reversing skits and the like. Villains appear as well, such as her evil principal, Mr. Turner, a ""homophobic, backward idiot."" Codell throws herself into the reading, imitating her kids' voices, sounding truly exasperated at each obstacle she faces. Based on the 1999 Algonquin hardcover. (Sept.)