Educator Portrait: “Be a life-long learner” at Perspectives High School of Technology

By Brittany Croone
September 16, 2015

CHICAGO— Not to be cliché, but I do teach because "the children are our future." There are so many systems in this country that have little to no regard for people who look like me and for the children that we teach. Here at Perspectives, we do. It is called the A Disciplined Life education model—which combines rigorous academic classes and strong character education. Coming from a background in engineering, I also teach because the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) industries are missing the creative energy and ideas of our students. I come here with my "A" game every day to provide our students with the mindsets, skills, and resources it takes to be successful in this competitive, technological world.

I have been at Perspectives for more than two years and this is my first year as the 11th grade Engineering Educator at Perspectives High School of Technology (TECH). I requested and have the honor of founding our engineering program at TECH to expose our students to the world of engineering. I spent the past two years as a Learning Behavior Specialist with a concentration in science and math.

The A Disciplined Life (ADL) education model equips me with the ability to pinpoint the key characteristics and mindsets it takes to be a good person. This allows me to evaluate my own areas of strengths and weaknesses and develop an action plan to improve, as well as foster this evaluation and action with our students. Students and staff alike study the 26 principles of A Disciplined Life, which help us develop positive self-perception, healthy relationships and tools for productivity.

One of my favorite quotes is by Zora Neale Hurston, “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” I think it is important for us as educators to give our students the skills and resources to help us fight the inequities and injustices of the world. We accomplish this on a daily basis as we live and study the 26 principles of A Disciplined Life.

At the end of last year, I had a conversation with one of my advisory students from the previous year. I began to commend her on all of the growth she made over the past two years, both academically and personally. She stopped me in the midst of the praise and said, "you don't even know this, but I learned a lot from you…”

She continued to say “…but the most important thing I learned from you is how to love myself and respect myself as a woman." Shocked, as I had no explicit lessons on these, I asked how I did that. She described the pride, love, and positivity that exuded from me during our interactions, and the respect I demanded from them for myself and for each other. From that moment on, I knew I was doing something right.

I am actively studying the A Disciplined Life principle “be a life-long learner.” Something that I work to instill in our students is that you will never know everything and that there are so many things that you don't even know that you don't know. However, it is important to always seek a better understanding of what you don't know and have the skills and resources to do so. This year I am designing a new curriculum. There are many things I know. However, there are so many that I don't. The only way to get better is to continually learn day after day. Each day I am working to be a better educator for our students.

Despite coming from some of the most underserved neighborhoods in Chicago, Perspectives students graduate from high school, enroll in college, and persist in college at rates above the national average for all students. Our current students and alumni are ethical young leaders who will transform lives in this city and beyond.

Brittany graduated with a bachelor’s of science in Civil Engineering from Northwestern University. She completed Master of Special Education from National Louis University. Brittany is living A Disciplined Life 26 principles at a time.

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***Educator Portrait is a monthly feature that highlights the commitment to quality teaching at Perspectives.