The Teacher Who Learns is the Teacher Who Can Teach: Reconciliation and Inspiration in New Orleans

June 4, 2009 at 9:17 am 4 comments

posted by Carol Hillman ’67, early childhood educator, author, and Long Trip co-leader

carolhillmanEighteen intrepid travelers, some rising as early as 3:15 a.m., gathered in Newark to begin our tenth Long Trip, this time to New 
Orleans.  How fortunate we were to begin our adventure at Cafe
Reconcile, a New Orleans non-profit organization that works with 16-22 year-old African Americans to prepare them to enter the workforce.  Reconcile’s youth workforce program provides at-risk young people, who have 
experienced socio-economic challenges, an opportunity to learn basic
life and interpersonal work skills that will allow for successful employment experiences.  Perspective participants may formerly have been
challenged by poverty, homelessness, arrested educational achievement, substance abuse, or recommended by the juvenile justice system. In accepting trainees into the program, Greg Fostenberry told us it is not their existing skills which is the deciding factor in choosing ten trainees for a nine week program, but rather their answer to the 
question, “Do you want to be here, and will you keep the job?”. 


orleans3 Greg, their trainer and mentor, spoke to us about some of the challenges of his work.  These young adults participate in role playing, and, through this, learn about how to handle a racist 
situation, deal with conflict management, or address whatever else could occur at the restaurant.

After hurricane Katrina the staff at the restaurant began a home ownership program as part of a Youth Construction Project. They use the
same hands-on mentoring model that had been developed at the cafe.  The first home completed was purchased by a Reconcile
employee.



orleans1Cafe Reconcile’s enticing food included fried or baked chicken, rice and red 
beans, jalapeno corn bread, and to-die-for chocolate bread pudding!



What a soul-satisfying way to launch ourselves into the unfolding story, both tragic and uplifting, of all that befell and continues to challenge the city of New Orleans.

Carol spent more than twenty years in the classroom and has been an educational consultant, an adjunct professor of early childhood education, and a member of Bank Street’s Board of Trustees. She lives part time in western Massachusetts, where she cares for hundred-year-old McIntosh trees and produces sun-cooked strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry preserves. She is the author of Mentoring Early Childhood EducatorsTeaching Four Year Olds, and Before the School Bell Rings.

About The Long Trip

orleans4 The annual Long Trip is a Bank Street tradition initiated by Lucy Sprague Mitchell, Bank Street’s founder, and personally led by her from 1935-1951. These visits to regions of interest, such as the Cumberland Mountains and the Tennessee Valley, were a distinctive part of the Bank Street program. Under Mrs. Mitchell’s leadership, the trips became a valued enactment of a fundamental belief: The teacher who learns is the teacher who can teach.

orleans2 Since reviving the Long Trip in 1996, faculty, staff, trustees, and friends of Bank Street have traveled to Asheville, N.C., Costa Rica, Iceland, Santa Fe, N.M., the Penn Center in St. Helena’s Island, S.C., Falmouth, Jamaica, Finland, Tennessee, West Virginia and Iceland. This travel experience to cultural and geographical places of interest is educational in every way…Bank Streeters learn about culture, people, and places by actually meeting and talking with a broad range of individuals and groups and by visiting important cultural and historical sites together.

Entry filed under: community, democratic education, dialogue, equity, integrated curricula, our teachers, professional development.

Bank Street’s Occasional Paper Series Invites Contributions for a New Issue… We hope you’re having a wonderful summer!

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Fern Khan  |  June 5, 2009 at 9:35 am

    I just loved reading Carol’s account of our visit to Cafe Reconcile in New Orleans! Carol is such an inspirational author and the most wonderful individual and friend with whom to travel. She notices everything! A good habit!
    Each person on our more recent Long Trips trips has an assignment (or chooses) to write about the morning or afternoon experiences so that we end up with a wealth of perspectives and information!
    Fern

  • 2. Eileen Blank  |  June 26, 2009 at 11:56 am

    I’m looking for someone who can advise me on the business end of working as a consultant. I have two offers to work on projects developing curriculum materials for nonprofit organizations.

    I graduated from Bank Street in ’91 and spent 13 years working for Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment as the Coordinator For Early Childhood Programs. I created outdoor environmental science programs, trained staff and lead staff development programs for teachers. I worked as an early childhood science teacher at a public school in Brooklyn for 5 years, prior to this school year.

    I would be interested in hearing about your experience as a consultant. In particular, I need input about the nuts and bolts.
    To be more specific, I’m trying to set a rate.

  • 3. Kelli Garner  |  September 26, 2009 at 1:22 am

    Thats very good to know… thanks

  • 4. Melinda Lyon  |  October 18, 2009 at 12:16 am

    Carol,
    I am from the Class of ’67 also and am wondering if you are the former Carol Rosenbloom? My name was Melinda Willis at that time.
    Now, Melinda Lyon

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