“Inspiring. . . . Readers will find that this was a learning process as much for the teacher as it was for the students.” Mark Alan Williams, Library Journal
In the Deep Heart's Core
978-0-8021-4024-1 • $16.00 • Paperback • Sep. 2003
The uplifting story of a Teach for America volunteer in the rural Mississippi Delta that Robert Coles has praised as “a compelling and important moral witness to education efforts today”
In the fall of 1997, Michael Johnston went to the rural Mississippi Deltathe “deep heart's core” of the Southas a member of the Teach For America program to become an English teacher in one of the poorest districts in the nation. At Greenville High School, he would confront a racially divided world in which his African-American students had to struggle daily against a legacy of crippling poverty and the scourges of drug addiction and gang violence that ravaged their community. In the Deep Heart's Core tells the story of how Johnston reached out to inspire his teenage students with all the means at his disposalfrom the language of the great poets, to the strategies of chess, to the vigor of athletics.
But more important, In the Deep Heart's Core brings to life the students of Greenville High, their passion for learning and dreams of a better world. Their stories, by turns heartbreaking and hopeful, harrowing and uplifting, form the emotional center of this powerful book. A charismatic class clown races to complete his coursework as his window of opportunity for earning a diploma is quickly shutting. A record-breaking track star draws the attention of college coaches from across the nation, but his poor grades threaten to push him from the bright spotlight of local celebrity to the obscure twilight of failure. A teenage mother's devotion to her infant son sparks a renewed commitment for academic success and an unyielding determination for a better future. And a vocational student emerges to find his voice as a writer, before having to face a choice that will change the course of his life forever.
Vibrantly alive with the rich atmosphere of the Mississippi Deltathe haunting beauty of its hollows and aching tragedy of its historyIn the Deep Heart's Core is a compassionate, eloquent, and profoundly moving book. It is an inspiring and unforgettable story of one young man's experience in the Teach For America program, and the story of how a new generation of teachers is reaching out to give hope to the students whom society has forgotten.