Berkeley High School Listening Campaign Transcripts
Interviewee: Alan Miller, English Teacher (grades 10 & 11)
Interview Location: Berkeley High School
Date: December 6, 2016
I: [00:00:02.29] Can you give us your name please?
AM: [00:00:04.09] I'm Alan Miller. A-l-a-n M-i-l-l-e-r.
I: [00:00:09.10] Thank you. It's nice to meet you. This is the arts and creativity for the love of school and a better future. Excuse me. We are working with leaders from around the county to create a plan for bringing arts and creativity to all students at all schools every day across Alameda County. We would love to hear your thoughts and experiences so we can make a plan that really works for you and your school. Can we ask you a few questions?
AM: [00:00:40.22] Yes.
I: [00:00:42.00] What makes you want to go to school every day?
AM: [00:00:44.26] I think teaching is an inherently creative act, at Berkeley High, at least. I've worked in other schools and other districts. We have wide latitude and we have opportunities to be independent.
I: [00:01:05.23] What does creativity mean to you?
AM: [00:01:08.11] It's not just splashing paint on a canvas or attending a play which is what I was doing when I kind of got commandeered into doing this. But, it's the act of making a new product. That's what creativity is. Or taking pieces from something that already exists and configuring them in a new way.
I: [00:01:44.25] What do you believe ignites your creativity, imagination and passion?
AM: [00:01:50.14] I'd say two things. I’d say education, trying to educate myself and others. The other thing is righteous anger, doing things out of wanting to share and teach. In doing things out of just a sense of being really pissed off about how things are.
I: [00:02:22.10] Yeah, of course. Because creativity can come from anger or joy. What ignites your students’ creativity, imagination and passion from what you've viewed over the years?
AM: [00:02:34.23] I'd say some flexibility, an ability to be less inhibited. I teach a class now, we're doing a play and we started the year out doing speeches and a lot of people are very reluctant to share and either to read someone else's work or to perform their own work or read their own work. What was the question again?
I: [00:03:12.11] The question was what do you believe ignites your students’ creativity, imagination and passion from what you've viewed over the years?
AM: [00:03:20.13] I'd say safety but I think there's an awful lot more to it than that. I think - and I'm talking about seniors here, I think they have gotten to senior year in a district like ours for as many people to not be comfortable sharing is kind of amazing. I had the experience of taking a group of students to a play last week. And a number of people who hadn't been to plays in the community, at school some point here on the campus, or even thought about that was kind of surprising to me. I think we've gotta normalize the arts. I think that in history and in English and science and language students need opportunities to be creative.
I: [00:04:22.03] What can your school do better to inspire your creativity?
AM: [00:04:29.20] I'd say flexibility. Sometimes we do things on deadlines. That isn't something that always inspires creativity. I would say also creating vehicles for student and teacher choice. ??? poems, you know you can do things for people and reading and doing lots of different things. You gotta have lots of different resources to do that. You gotta pay people so that they know all the resources. I know that there are people who are quite comfortable just saying, here's a book, choose a book, read a book. I'm not really comfortable with that. I don't think I'm ever gonna be comfortable with that. I wanna know what I'm giving somebody. Just like I wanna know if I make a cake, what's in the cake so I can say you might be allergic to this or whatever. I think a lot of paid time which I think is really rare. I think collaboration with partners. I think as much as possible, in the humanities at least, we should be coring English and history. And that we should be doing things that are collaborative.
I: [00:06:03.25] What do you think your school can do better to inspire your students creativity?
AM: [00:06:10.05] I think we're a very strong school in terms of the arts. We're not like a lot of schools. I've worked in Richmond High. I worked at Oakland Tech. I worked at Castle Mont. I worked in Fremont so I've seen a range of. I think the arts are really well integrated into the school, if not always in the curriculum, sometimes in the curriculum. I think again giving people paid time. Giving people resources to bring them in and give students opportunities to do the arts. You're talking to somebody who's over twenty-five years here at Berkeley High who's done sixty or seventy assemblies. There's always an arts component. I just did a world aids day assembly. There were student poets, there were professional actors, there were professional speakers, there was a slide show that had a research component. I've done things on guns, on gun violence. I regularly bring in story-tellers. I regularly bring in poets every year to start the year. I've done a thing with poets from Berkeley who, not just from Berkeley, but for Berkeley Poetry Festival. Gimme the question again so I make sure I'm staying on task.
I: [00:07:51.08] What can your school do to better inspire your students creativity?
AM: [00:07:57.29] I would say stay away from assessments so much. Or create assessments where there has to an artistic component. Give people work but have teachers assign work where there are artistic components. I know not everybody’s an artist. I mean I painted, I drew, I acted, I sang. But, I don't think that you have to do those things and be an expert in them to have students do them too. The same way that I'm not a computer genius but I can say here are the laptops, do this.
I: [00:08:50.28] Do this assignment on the computer cause you guys are good with technology. Course incorporating stuff that kids can do that they would like is always good with subjects that some students don't like as much. What did you hope to accomplish when you decided to become a teacher and were you able to achieve this with your students?
AM: [00:09:17.27] I'd say this. I think that when I came into teaching one of the things I was really interested in was what I was teaching. I was much more interested in doing things to make it more diverse. A reading list cause I'm a English teacher. I'm much less concerned now with - I'm still concerned, there are all types of texts that reflect a lot of different ranges of interests and cultures and so forth. At that time I believed it was gonna be that I wanted to bring in more great books, classics. And I do teach some of those things and I've done that. That's really not enough. The how is as important as the what. I teach The Prints by Machiavelli. I don't know if you've read that? You know about it? It's a book from the 1400's about how to rule, how to be a ruler. It's basically about killing people and keeping order and about the importance of order over freedom. And about how chaos destroys societies and how to have a central ruler to basically to keep everybody in check. Whereas I might have been really happy twenty-five years ago or thirty years ago say, let's teach this. The kinds of projects that I do with it are much more important. Students do posters, they do monologues, they write an essay about a contemporary prince, they do a group poster where they look at princes around the school. So, what would the library look like if it were run by a Machiavellian prince? What would an English class look like? What would a football team look like? All of those things have artistic components.
I: [00:11:53.04] Igniting their imagination.
AM: [00:11:55.14] Yeah. I've always been an artist and I guess I may have assumed when I was younger that those things would kind of naturally happen. What I've figured out over time is that you gotta demand that they happen. You end up being that people use all the parts of their brain. You gotta put them in situations where there is some risk involved and where they're being expected to - because people aren’t naturally creative. It’s just that sometimes in mass education people fall in love with order and efficiency and don't think about the brain being this fantastic thing that needs to be stimulated in lots of different ways. It’s kind of amazing if you think about it. I'm sure that there's some people here, who based on how they use their brains and if we really truly were letting people walk as their brain functioned, some of them, their hands would be all the way down on one side or the other. You need to have both.
I: [00:13:15.16] What’s your main goal as a teacher?
AM: [00:13:21.01] What do you mean?
I: [00:13:22.18] What's your goal with your students? Let’s say at the start of the school year, is your goal to make sure these students understand English better or broader vocabulary? Those are just things I'm thinking about English. But you know what I'm saying. Is there a goal that you want your students to achieve or something you believe your students can achieve with your help?
AM: [00:13:54.04] At the beginning of the year?
I: [00:13:55.07] Yeah. With a new group of students.
AM: [00:14:00.09] There are expectations and standards that you're expected to meet over the course of the year. Of course I wanna meet those standards. The question is how do you meet those standards. I kind of address that when I said I could teach a book but the issue is how do you assess certain knowledge and how do you give people opportunities to show what they know in more than one way. I think it's really the same thing.
I: [00:14:31.20] Do you use the arts in your classroom?
AM: [00:14:38.09] Probably more than anybody else. Each of the units that I teach, there’s a music component. I did ??? and we played the blues. When we do Shakespeare I’ll do some classical music. And then there's specific songs that are actually in Shakespeare’s texts. Things Fall Apart - you know that book?
I: [00:15:17.12] Could you repeat it please?
AM: [00:15:19.27] Things Fall Apart ??? It's a Nigerian novel about an African man whose village is destroyed by Colonialism. For that unit I bring in Nigerian music, not just African music -
I: [00:15:41.26] Yeah, quote-un-quote African music.
AM: [00:15:44.03] Right. I play ??? I play High Life. I have some samplers that have music from different places to kind of show people that sometimes the music is similar in some parts of the world. Sometimes things are very different. All the units have music. When we do that book, story-telling is a big part of the book. Probably twenty times in the twenty-five years I brought in story-tellers because story-telling is right there in the book. Folk tales, story-telling. So, I bring in story-tellers. I told you about the world’s aid assembly, that there's always art and there's always a student component there. A lot of posters. My students obviously have to not just use the printed word but think about images. I also have students write poems. I don't think there's anybody that is doing that as much as I do.
I: [00:17:07.04] What do you see as being the role of arts in educating young people?
AM: [00:17:11.09] I think it's absolutely crucial. I think that if we’re gonna expect people to think in new ways, then we've got to give them more than a five paragraph essay or some kind of box in which to fit their thoughts. The arts are absolutely crucial to giving them the safe - you can get away with something in the arts that you couldn’t get away with in an essay. That's what I'd say is that we want to figure out ways to introduce them in contents so that people don't see the arts as necessarily separate from the teaching content. Which I think is a false ???
I: [00:18:02.04] I agree one hundred percent because I know for a fact that if some of my teachers - cause I know with certain classes I'm not as good. English is my favorite subject. But let's say with math is not as much and I know one of my teachers would always do segments with the lesson that were more fun which usually has to do with the arts. With geometry, drawing, figuring out how these shapes, bringing in little models of the shapes, different aspects like that. or even in history, the posters, the acting out different things in history. Of course, it always makes it more fun to learn and also more easier to remember. I know if we didn't do it that way, learning would be more difficult. I'm pretty sure I would never remember anything from any revolution if I didn't act it out with my friends in class which always helped us remember it more. So, I one hundred percent agree with your teaching style. Thank you for doing the interview. This is the end.
Interviewee: Claudia Gonzalez, Science teacher
Interview Location: Berkeley High School
Date: December 6, 2016
(background noise, chit chat)
I: [00:00:15.18] Can you state your name and spell it out please?
CG: [00:00:18.07] Yes. My dame is Claudia Gonzales. It's C-l-a-u-d-i-a, Gonzalez is G-o-n-z-a-l-e-z.
I: [00:00:27.23] thank you. We’re working with leaders from around the county to create a plan for bringing arts and creativity to all students at all school every day across Alameda County. We would love to hear your thoughts and experiences so we can make a plan that really works for you and your school. Can we ask you a few questions?
CG: [00:00:42.16] Yes.
I: [00:00:44.09] First questions, are you a teacher?
CG: [00:00:47.11] Yes, I'm a teacher.
I: [00:00:49.05] What makes you wanna come to school every day?
CG: [00:00:52.07] Honestly, I love my students. It sounds really cheesy but they're the highlight of the day. I think even when teaching gets stressful it's never because of the kids. It’s always the amount of work maybe or the lack of resources. The lack of time in the day to get it all done. But, the kids are really what gets me here every day. The interactions that you have with them. The relationships you can build. The colleagues that we have here. I think if you really make the effort to meet people. There's a lot of people on this campus so it's nice, there’s always a lot of energy that keeps me coming back.
I: [00:01:25.12] Do you think it's the students that can sometimes relieve the stress that comes from having to grade work?
CG: [00:01:29.27] Yeah, oh yeah, absolutely. They're the reason why we do our job, at least for me, personally. I love teaching because I love to see their creativity and to see their energy and to watch them learn. When you see that little spark like they really got something. Definitely the time that I'm with the students is the best part of my day. Regardless of whatever is going on at the school. The time that you have with the kids is really rewarding.
I: [00:01:59.10] What does creativity mean to you?
CG: [00:02:02.09] I think creativity for me is having a wide variety of options. A wide range of choice whether it’s different ways to teach, different ways to learn, different ways to express learning. I think creativity just gives us an outlet to let out something we want to let out. It can be creativity in your own life like at home, the way that you set up your apartment. But, in the school setting, I think creativity really has a lot to do with how you assess somebodys learning. Whether it's that you’re doing a traditional test or is there a skit that they students are doing? Is it an art project? Just different forms of learning. Creating a jeopardy game even. Just different ways of getting the content out to the students and for seeing if they're learning it or not.
I: [00:02:53.16] What ignites your creativity, imagination and passion?
CG: [00:02:57.10] I think for me, personally as a teacher, I think trying to find different ways to make it exciting for students helps to really get my creativity going. I think also for me I just like to see things that are visually stimulating. Even if it's not just teaching, my life in general, I like things that are color-coded or things that are visually appealing, just kind of make the space warmer or brighter. Even in the classroom, just to be in that space. My classrooms are covered with student work and there's posters and instead of just a plain wall. There's nothing wrong with a plain wall, but for me that wouldn't spark that creativity.
I: [00:03:43.02] It's kind of the aesthetic that makes you?
CG: [00:03:45.24] I think that's part of it, for sure. The aesthetic definitely gets my creativity personally going. Then also I think the engagement of the students and the interactions, they're relationship building.
I: [00:03:58.09] What ignites your students' creativity, imagination and passion?
CG: [00:04:02.06] I think for them it's working together. I work in one of the small schools here, which is a cohort of students. So, for example, in my classes, the juniors all have the same core teachers so they end up with the same history, English, science and math teachers and they get to know each other really well. By the time I have them in their junior year, they've been together for now their third year so I think their creativity gets going because they can bounce ideas off each other. They're comfortable so they really can express themselves in that kind of setting.
I: [00:04:33.27] It's the way that they all know each other kind of.
CG: [00:04:36.24] They know each other. They're comfortable. They try new things. They're not afraid to make mistakes because they know each other. So, I think their creativity really can come a lot of having that freedom to do different things and express themselves differently through the assignment given but also being able to work with other students. I think that they're much more creative when they get to work with a partner or work in a group.
I: [00:04:57.17] It’s always much better when you have that help from someone. If you make a mistake it's always easier for someone else to catch it.
CG: [00:05:05.27] Yeah. Even if each student has to have their own end product. For example, let's say you’re creating something and everybody has to do their own but being able to talk to the people around you. Ask them questions about how'd you do that? Or how'd you figure out this? It just helps people to really get more ideas and to build off their own ideas by talking to other people.
I: [00:05:26.03] What can your school do to better inspire your creativity?
CG: [00:05:29.26] I think in a lot of ways there are resources that we're given. We have grant money. We're really fortunate to have grants that we've qualified for. But, I think if those grants ever ran out, what I would say that the school could do to make sure resources are available for materials. Cause it's one thing if a teacher comes up with some great ideas, something they wanna do, but if there's no funding there to do it, then that's really challenging. So, I think just always making sure there's funding for fieldtrips that are educational trips, materials for projects or those types of resources. I think also just the schools really good about being open if we wanna bring people to the campus like people from different careers and people from different areas of expertise. We have assemblies and shows and things like that pretty often. I would say to continue that and to really still place a value on those types of experiences for the kids.
I: [00:06:25.00] What can your school do to better inspire your students creativity?
CG: [00:06:29.17] I think that kind of goes hand in hand. If you inspire the teachers to be creative that kind of falls into the classroom and that helps to motivate the students. If you have the resources for those fun projects and for those fun trips that keeps the students as engaged as the teachers. We've been working a lot on trying to build unity of this campus because it's so big and there’s so many students. So I think that's not something that's necessarily about creativity but just that the school could keep supporting the students with more things for them to do on campus. And just to continue to support the Student Activities Director and the activities leadership students try to plan. I just think that that's a way to really support student voice on the campus.
I: [00:07:15.20] Yeah. Kind of makes it harder to be creative if you have no way of doing it.
CG: [00:07:19.16] Yeah. Like having some outlet for them. Having lunchtime stuff they can do like the dances that they're planning. Just really helping to give students a voice and then when they speak actually listen to what is it they wanna do on campus.
I: [00:07:32.28] What did you hope to accomplish when you decided to become a teacher?
CG: [00:07:37.22] What thing did I want to accomplish? I think - that's tough cause there’s a lot of things. I think one thing is that I wanted to inspire students to love to learn. Whether they really love biology - which is what I teach, or they hate it. I just wanted them to be curious about something and to really enjoy the learning process whatever it is that they wanna learn about. So that when they go to college they really enjoy the classes that they take and they take in a lot of information. Not every students gonna love talking about cells and DNA and all of that. My concern is not so much that you love the content of my class, although that would be a nice bonus, but just that you enjoy learning. That's something that’s always a goal for me when I came in to teaching. Also, I think I really want kids to have this amazing time in high school. It goes by so fast and I always hope that when kids look back, they can say that they really enjoyed being here. It's a big thing to want and it's not really all in my control, so I just try to make sure that in my classroom at least they had an enjoyable time with their fellow classmates and that they would have a positive experience in that class.
I: [00:08:57.17] You want them to have that high school experience.
CG: [00:08:59.21] Yeah, I do. I want them to be able to have their fun dances and their great memories, and their spirt events, and their friends and to know that their teachers really cared about them. It takes the whole team. All the teachers and admin and everybody to make that experience for all kids but I think that's one of things I really try to do in my classroom.
I: [00:09:18.15] Do you think that you are able to achieve your main goal in becoming a teacher?
CG: [00:09:24.29] I think so. I feel like the school here does support our teachers. If I need something, I feel like I can go and ask for something. If there are resources available, we are supported with what we ask for. I think that one of the goals I had later - not when I first started teaching, but being a Latina female in science, I never really thought about it, I just thought oh, I'm a science teacher or I’m a female science teacher. I didn't really think about ethnicity and race and all that until I got here and really saw being that example for people. Cause I had a student come and tell me, "thank you for being a Latina teacher". And I never thought about it that way. So I think now the schools does a good job with the professional development that we do, honoring cultures of students and teachers. I think that the school is making a lot of progress. We have a long ways to go but I think really valuing all the different cultures of the students and the faculty here helps to enable me to be a better example for my students.
I: [00:10:27.12] Currently, what is your main goal as a teacher?
CG: [00:10:31.10] My main goal I would say is to help my students be prepared for life after high school. Whether it's that they're gonna go to college or go into a career right away. I want them to get through college, not just into college and that's really hard for some students. They get in and after a couple years, because of work or whatever, family obligations, they're not able to finish. Or because of how long it can take they get discouraged. I really just want my students to be able to have the access to the opportunities that they want and access to their careers that they want and to the future they want. I want them to have the tools. They're gonna have to work for it when they get out of here, but I want them to know how to work for it.
I: [00:11:17.20] Do you think that the school really helps you out with preparing them for that?
CG: [00:11:21.09] I think that it does and I think that areas where we could improve - it's not because the school is saying no, don’t' do that or no, we won't help you, it's just that there's a lot to do. I think the schools on the right track and will continue to support. I mean, right now we're building a lot of partnerships with nearby community colleges and universities and things like that. And the school is always supportive of what we wanna do. I think it just takes a lot of time and a lot of hours to make those connections happen.
I: [00:11:54.02] Do you think that you use arts in your classroom?
CG: [00:11:57.05] I actually do a lot. Even though I’m a science teacher, I’ve had some kids that are like we do art stuff in here all the time, this is not an art class! But, I actually think it’s a good way of them showing what they learn. We'll do a lot of models. For example, my biology has a lot of anatomy and so we'll doing building models of the heart or of the brain. We almost always draw diagrams every unit of something. Like, if it’s a cells unit, we drew the animal and the plant cell. If it's DNA, we're gonna build a DNA model. Whatever it might be, there's always some kind of art, whether it's just drawing something or creating an actual 3-D type of thing.
I: [00:12:37.05] Yeah, it always shows - a lot of people are visual learners so it shows that they fully understand.
CG: [00:12:44.28] Yeah. If you could build a model and show me where all the parts are then you really have to know how something functions if you put it together in the first place.
I: [00:12:51.22] Yeah. If it’s in the wrong spot - say you're doing the nucleus of a cell and all the way on the outside and you’re like well. So you can always help the students learn more by doing that cause you can help them correct themselves.
CG: [00:13:03.16] Yeah, very true.
I: [00:13:06.05] What do you see as being the role of arts in educating young people?
CG: [00:13:10.05] I think it's about expression. I really think that that freedom of expression, the creativity in the ways you allow them to express - not only themselves, but also what they learn. If assessments could include things - like instead of always having a test or a quiz, building a model could be an assessment. Or having skits where people are - we've done role playing in some of my classes and acted things out, get students moving. I think that the role of arts is to give people another way to learn and to also reinforce what they're already learning through other methods. I think that it helps to make that learning stronger because people tend to remember things better if they do something with it. Whether it’s moving around the room through some kind of role play. Or the models we've talked about, drawing it. If you can do things more than once and in different ways I think you learn it better. But, also I think too just even a balance throughout the day. I think that I'm glad we have the art classes we have and the music program that we have because sometimes, teachers try to incorporate that a lot into their classroom, but not everybody does and not everybody has the time or feels they have the time. If we didn't have our actual arts program, some students might not have that creative outlet throughout the day. That's a long day to not have some form of creativity in there.
I: [00:14:29.18] I didn't know that before I had arts classes available to me, it was kind of hard trying to find a way but a lot of people do end up figuring out what they're good at through the search of what they're trying to do they can always find out what they're really passionate about.
CG: [00:14:46.18] Yeah, yeah. There has to be a balance. I really think it can't just be plug and chug, practice problems and PowerPoints. There has to be a balance of other ways of learning. There just has to be. Your brain kind of needs different stimulation to different parts of the brain.
I: [00:15:03.08] Yeah and I know with a lot of kids our age, we really find that if you're just gonna sit there giving us notes to copy down from the board than its kind of dull to us. So that’s what makes it a lot less exciting for some kids. A lot of kids need that to even pay attention in class.
CG: [00:15:21.02] Yeah. Yeah. I’ve actually gone back to school and taken classes as an adult, even as a teacher now. It’s good to remind myself what it's like to be a student on the other end cause man, sometimes if you're just sitting there in a lecture for a while, you start to doze off. Even the best students, you can only stay awake for so long.
I: [00:15:40.03] thank you. That concludes our interview.
CG: [00:15:41.02] Cool. Thank you. Good luck with your projects.
Interviewee: Dwayne Byndloss, Academic Counselor
Interviewer: Tauriq Hamilton
Interview Location: Berkeley High School
Date: December 6, 2016
I: [00:00:26.25] First off, I'd like to introduce myself. My name Tauriq. I go to San Lorenzo High School. My arts and creativity is filming so I like to do a lot of camera work. I'd like to know a little bit about you. What is your name and -
DB: [00:00:47.25] My name is Dwayne Byndloss. I'm a Academic Counselor here at Berkeley High School. I also teach a class over at Berkeley City Community College. Born and raised in East Oakland. Been working with Berkeley for a couple of decades. Studied engineering and African Studies in undergrad and masters in counseling.
I: [00:01:07.28] In your definition, what does creativity mean to you?
DB: [00:01:13.05] Creativity means being open to people expressing themselves in different formats and different genres.
I: [00:01:24.21] Within the students that come to you for academic support, do you feel like they get that creativity in their classrooms?
DB: [00:01:37.07] Some more than others. These days teachers try to diversify projects to some extent, it's not consistent for every project for every assignment, but they tend to try. It's the twenty-first century - second decade of the twenty-first century so I do see a trend for giving options for expressing what you have learned in classes but it's still far from balance. It used to be non-existent totally but now you see it more. Twenty percent of the time - ten to twenty percent of the time if it’s a non-art class.
I: [00:02:19.18] With that still coming in but still being unbalanced, you don't really see that much of the kids that have that problem with school growing up. You see very few of them or how often do you see going up to AP classes or whatever?
DB: [00:02:41.04] What students are you referring to?
I: [00:02:43.24] All the students in general?
DB: [00:02:47.06] it varies man. Berkeley High has these different learning communities. They have one that's straight up artistic where the art theme runs all through it ??? The art themes - those students tend to not be so much concerned about maxing out in AP courses. They're more concerned with art. You have another school AC, academic choice, most students in general tend to be sometimes the ones who're AP chasers. Then you got ??? those are Video Production. it varies, it varies. There are avenues. Berkeley High has a super - besides ????? they have a straight up artistic theme running through it. You got the dance program here that's exceptional. You got Afro-Asian dance. You have modern dance which is part hip-hop, part jazz and part ballet. You got a drama program here, a great drama program. so, artistic programs at Berkeley High I really think are exceptional. While the theme might not run through every classroom, definitely at Berkeley High School you have access to art programs.
I: [00:04:06.07] A lot of electives here?
DB: [00:04:07.09] A lot of electives. You got beginning ceramics. You got beginning art. You got digital photography. You got old school dark room photography. You got ceramics. You got video production. It's a lot. I think this is an art friendly school. Now, in English, history, math, how much is creativity imbedded in those classes? That's where it goes down. So Berkeley High is you got classes at the high level artistic expression accepted and others. For me, as a counselor, I like to think my approach is artistic in the sense that I use hip-hop and video as much as possible to address and it gets students to think about their development and mindset. Other counselors don't use it at all. Again, it varies along the counseling staff. I think that a video could be way more powerful than me talking to you for fifteen minutes. But a five minute video could be way more powerful than a thirty minute counseling session with me. I try as much as possible to use hip-hop in music. so that’s my main creativity that I try to use in the course of being a counselor. But again, other counselors don't allow that so it varies from counselor to counselor. Matter of fact, I would say pretty much the majority of counselors do not embrace that. They use creativity and artist in their office. They have sandboxes, you know what I mean, so they’re creative about counseling sessions in terms of getting students opportunities to do things that will help them relax. Traditionally, you go into a counselors office you're not seeing no sandbox. You’re not seeing those little things you turn upside down and it drips down slowly, you know, colorful things that has three different holes in it, things that can help you relax. They creative sometimes about creating a space for relaxation for students to reflect on how they feel and what they're going through.
I: [00:06:12.27] Do you see that creativity side in the general education math and something like that? Math and science and English. Have you ever had some of your kids be like oh, my teacher did something really creative, I wanna go back tomorrow?
DB: [00:06:30.10] Yeah. I never heard it a kid saying that exactly, not in the core classes. Definitely not in English or history or math. Sometimes science teachers are normally pretty creative with their labs and how they express science, hands-on science projects. They use creativity a lot more than in English, history or math. Math, I don't know about the creativity in that one. but, I now in presentations sometimes they give them options. You could turn in a paper. You can do a presentation. you can create a art project and be able to use that and then do a presentation using the art project. So some classes on certain assignments they have that level. But, I think you see it far less in English, history and math.
I: [00:07:20.22] do you have a creative writing class? Cause I know creative writing is more on the poems and stuff.
DB: [00:07:29.01] Yeah, there was hip-hop class last year. For some reason it didn't get funded this year. there's nota creative writing per se, but I think a lot of English classes have creative writing assignments. But there's not a full class for creative writing and there’s not a full class is poetry or spoken word. ???
I: [00:07:55.01] What is your main goal as a counselor?
DB: [00:07:58.09] One is I like to help young people identify with their gift to world will be. And then to help them develop their skills to be able to develop that gift and then market that gift. To empower them to be able to navigate this world in the dream path, whatever their dream path is. Of course, get them to understand how some of this drugs and alcohol and violence, how all of that can have a negative impact on your development and the development of the community. It’s pretty much how I would summarize my main goal. Developing the attitudes, beliefs - attitudes, behaviors and discipline that's necessary to being successful in this society which I think is inherently racist.
I: [00:08:59.20] What do you feel about the principal? Do you feel that the principal is trying to help the students as well? or interactive with the students or trying to have a relationship?
DB: [00:09:13.18] I can't say anything about the principal on tape because it can come back and get me. (laughter) But, yeah, I can't really say. I think Berkeley is like a school that is not necessarily designed for the average student. I think the Hill parents in Berkeley have a lot of power and they've a lot of influence over policies and school board members. I think the school is segregated because - Berkeley High is segregated because some people of power - I'm not saying the Hill parents, you can live anywhere and think negative about students of color or think negative about classrooms that are majority students. You can live anywhere. I think Berkeley High is like America, man. ??? (inaudible) I don't even wanna say it’s a melting pot in terms of diversity, but we ain't not all melting together. Some people melt to more than others. (laughter).
I: [00:10:37.15] Do you see diverse students because the general education, like there’s AP class and then you see general education, what do you see more color students?
DB: [00:10:55.17] There’s AP course which is college level courses if you pass the AP test. And then you have college-prep courses. So it's not really no general ed - when you say general education, I'm assuming you’re referring to college-prep courses. So, the average course here is a college-prep course, they don't have not college-prep course. Not unless you might have a IEP or some form of learning difference than you might be in a course that nots college-prep. but pretty much all students here are main streamed into college-prep classes and then you got the AP courses. Most of the AP courses are majority. You walk into a AP classes, they're majority white. Ninety percent. Ninety percent white, the AP courses.
I: [00:11:42.28] Who’s teaching the classes?
DB: [00:11:43.18] Primarily white teachers. Why they’re like that is a number of different reasons. Part of it is the structure of the school. Part of it is students of color feeling alienated. why would I want to be in a class where there’s gonna be only one or two students of color. and then when we have critical discussions over issues, my voice is gonna get pretty much swallowed by the voice of the masses. I'm not really in a situation I would feel comfortable expressing myself. Some of the small schools, their access to AP classes are not ??? and ??? I'm actually a counselor for AMPS, Alameda Medical Public Service. Some of our schools have more structure so your access to AP classes is not on the same level as other schools. We focus more on teacher collaboration, integrating our curriculum, embracing our diversity. Then we do a number of AP courses. How do you define education? how do you define a quality education? Some people define it as the number of AP courses you take. Other people define it as the projects you work on and the depth of the learning and the collaboration and the projects that you work on, you’re learning of diverse issues not just main stream America.
I: [00:13:21.06] Say a student would come to you and be like you said before, why would I want to be in that class if I'm just gonna feel alienated. What would you do in that situation? Would you rather support them into doing that? I feel like if they're good at it, I would go ahead, dude go ahead, you're really good at this.
DB: [00:13:50.15] I would tell them is, do it man. Cause you know why? Cause that's why that’s the way this world is. When you get to college, it’s gonna be like that. When I was in college, studying engineering - African studies of course, but in engineering I was the only black person in the class. Maybe one or two, but most of the time the only one. When it came time to get into groups for projects, everybody left me. I was sitting there by myself. I had to go ask somebody to get in a group and when I did get in a group you could tell they thought I wasn't as smart as them. So I had to prove myself. I just told them what's gonna happen and that you gotta prove yourself but that's ok, that’s the way it is. That's the way of life living in this country. This is a white supremacy system in this country’s design. And this design is not designed for all of us to be successful. Cause in education, I rocked the science and they don't want everybody to do well, they could do it. I would strongly encourage them. I would never discourage somebody. but I would teach them how to deal with it and how to face it and that you gotta believe in yourself and you gotta prove yourself. ??? you gotta be twice as good sometimes in situations in order to be accepted or to prove yourself. I just tell them don't go in there - man, go in there and give one hundred percent. Study hard, study smart. Believe in yourself. You're gonna have to prove yourself, but hey, don't trip on that. For me, when I internalize racism, racism motivated me. so when somebody doubted me, that motivated me so I studied full hard. When I go to class and the teacher look at me like why you in here? That motivated me. so you just use it. Any barriers that you face because of your isolation let those barriers motivate you, not discourage you. I definitely never discourage them from taking college level courses regardless of how isolated they gonna be.
I: That was great. your point of view on things is awesome. I guess I would ask, what does creativity mean to you?
DB: [00:16:05.21] Yeah, I kind of answered that once. Me personally? Personally, not in terms of students, but personally? it's just finding different ways to doing things. Not only one way. If I have a certain learning objective, I want these youngsters to learn the importance of college so I would diversify the approach. And it’s also being open to diversity responses when you check for understanding. Being open to diversity responses, not just can you tell me what did you learn from this? I would say, can you tell me - you got three choices, you can tell me, you can show me through some type of artistic expression or there’s spoken work or there’s drawing, whether it's a skit. So, that's how I would define it. Approaching things in a diversified way, in different ways and being open to a diverse set of responses.
I: [00:17:15.05] In five words, how would you describe Berkeley High? It could be in any type of ??? It could be artistic -
DB: [00:17:41.08] I got (inaudible) First I was gonna say the belly of the beast. (inaudible) I'm cool with that, the belly of the beast.
I: [00:17:57.17] Can you describe that to me? I like that.
DB: [00:18:01.00] The beast is the white supremacy system in this country. That's the beast in America. At the core of that system is the education institution, that’s the belly. The education institution is the belly. White supremacy system in this country set up three institutions to maintain the system. One was the media institutions. If they control the images coming into somebody’s mind then you can control their thoughts, you can control their behavior. Media institutions, educational institutions. If you can control the educational institutions and get people to not believe in themselves and belie that they cannot or they are not smart, that they cannot become smart then you defeated them. They can't challenge us cause we all think we are smart. Then they created the prison institution. If anybody start getting defiant in their kingdom and educational institution, we gonna pop into the prison institution which is modern day slavery. Berkeley High is part of the educational institution. I think all three of those institutions end up belly of the beast. Iwould describe so that’s why I said that.
i: [00:19:15.03] You seen the documentary on Netflix, The Thirteenth? It's talks about the thirteenth amendment about once you go to jail you're officially a slave to the state or to the country.
DB: [00:19:27.07] And you work for free. If you're locking me in my cell for twenty-three hours a day or sometimes twenty-four and you say, "do you wanna get out for an hour and work over here and do this?" I would be like hell, yeah, you don't gotta pay me nothing, I would do anything to get out of here or work for a quarter. They lock you up, they break your spirit and then you'll come out and do anything just to get some freedom outside of that rectangle. You can't vote no more, that's what happens. Most of the time, you end up there it’s a life sentence so you never. The majority of people that go in for the hard core time, never come out. so you're talking about a slave for life. If I can get you caught up in this institution, then I got you for life. Sometimes you gotta kill in there to stay alive and now you got your sentence that you went in for three years, had to kill somebody and now I’m in there for life. So, it's a big set up.
I: [00:20:23.17] (inaudible) we also have a interviewer here (inaudible) She'd love this. she'll love this so when she probably hear this, she'll probably have the same agreements as you. It'll be just like a big conversation. she'll probably be here for an hour or two.
DB: [00:20:42.25] She’s a student here?
I: [00:20:43.25] No. She’s one of the interviewers. But she goes to college at Alameda but she'll have the same agreements as you.
DB: [00:20:54.13] Cool. I gotta run folks. You guys got something else? You good?
I: [00:20:59.00] Nothing else. You have a good day. This is the end of the interview.
Interviewee: Diane Colborn, Vice Principal overseeing Special Education students
Interviewer: Maurice Sampson
Interview Location: Berkeley High School
Date: December 6, 2016
I: [00:00:00.16] Hello. My name is Maurice Sampson. I go to Chabot College. I am here with?
DC: [00:00:06.11] I'm Diane Colborn. I am the Administrator in charge of students with the IEPs at Berkeley High School.
I: [00:00:12.26] That's a great title. How are you doing today?
DC: [00:00:15.06] Good.
I: [00:00:17.28] That's great to hear. How long have you been the administrator?
DC: [00:00:20.16] Ten years. This is my tenth year. I was a teacher before then. Working for about nine years, I was teaching literacy to students with reading struggles.
I: [00:00:31.23] When did you decide that you wanted to become a teacher?
DC: [00:00:36.20] In college I made up my own major that was called Urban Education so I've been teaching ever since. Many, many years.
I: [00:00:47.26] Cause I know there's a lot of teachers through the years that have - lesson plans change and stuff, but do you have a lesson play that you use every year that's your favorite lesson plan?
DC: [00:01:03.26] I'm an administrator now so I'm in a different position. I go into classes and I observe my teachers and I try to give them ideas about lesson plans. My idea is to look and try to see something that is gonna capture students and make them believe in themselves. Make them believe that even as students with learning or emotional disabilities, they can be very productive and successful. So, my job is partly to inspire teachers to inspire students.
I: [00:01:36.00] What does a normal day for you consist of at school, at least?
DC: [00:01:41.28] Today was a typical day where I had four IEP meetings and I went into one classroom and observed in the classroom. Then, up till from four to five, I was just looking at email and answering parent questions and response. Sometimes I have to respond to legal letters, something that a parent wants. it's meetings, writing, and seeing classes. That's pretty much what my days are.
I: [00:02:12.19] What does your course of action with students that need more help than others?
DC: [00:02:18.19] That's what my whole job is, to kind of provide the paperwork and the rationale that shows students themselves, their families and their teachers what accommodations and modifications they need in order to be successful. Part of my job is to oversee an assessment process to see if students do qualify to be in special education. And then once they do, to figure out goals and services that respond to their needs. For example, I was meeting with this student and family today. A student whose been skipping all of her classes, whose been getting involved in drugs, whose been getting involved in dangerous activities. so, it's a touchy thing to figure out how much of that is teenage acting out and how much of it might be a mental health issue that we need to actually provide services for. That's a kind of tricky thing that I'm involved with.
I: [00:03:15.06] Has there ever been some type of false diagnosis of people who need special education but don't really need it?
DC: [00:03:23.05] Absolutely. I am convinced that too many people are in special education. That special education should be a last resort. sometimes we inherit people that have been special education, maybe just because they're louder, they swore in class. And that really doesn't mean they have a disability, it means they may have had a cultural clash with their teachers. We have way too many people of color in special education related to the population of Berkeley. so, absolutely. And now, sometimes parents want students in special education when in a way they should be happy if their students don't qualify but they just want more and more services. Sometimes I'm in dispute with the family about whether I think a student should have special education services.
I: [00:04:15.00] In your own words, what does creativity mean to you?
DC: [00:04:20.26] Creativity means just thinking outside of the envelope, bursting outside of the box the way that you usually do things. I usually do think of creativity in terms of art which can be music, literature, actual fine arts, performance arts. To me - it might not be the specific part of my job, but it's what keeps me going in life. I'm a total reader that reads every day and listens to book now on audio and I don't think I would survive in my very tense job without having that outlet. I love going to museums. I love seeing my teachers use art in their classes. Creativity and art is a saving force for me.
I: [00:05:11.27] How do you implement creativity into your work plan?
DC: [00:05:17.03] I encourage all of my teachers who work with students with disabilities to integrate art whenever they can. To put art from the students on the walls of their classroom. To think about a way to integrate art, say, literacy for students that struggle with reading and writing but maybe they’re good in art. You can have poster that represent what they’ve read in a book with some writing but also a lot of art. Another part of my job is to encourage students to be in general education classes. My students are in many, many art classes and they’ve been extremely successful in those art classes. Where, maybe in a math class or a history class they might struggle, they can excel in a art class. That contributes to them feeling good about themselves and feeling positive about being in school and being successful overall.
I: [00:06:11.02] That's great to hear. I know in some schools - maybe not a lot, but most of them, there is this ideal of where if kids are not doing their work they are a lower classes and there's people in higher classes. From what I heard, the other schools that I went to it's mostly people of color that are in the lower class. do you think it's because of the creativity or the passion that is not ignited in their classroom for them to achieve higher?
DC: [00:06:53.03] That's an aspect. That's a good hypothesis as to one of the reasons. It's a huge social, cultural, economic issue that echoes in some ways the stratification we have on life outside of schools. I do feel that if students successes could be harnessed and people could be looking at students through what they can do, not what they can't do, that that is something that could cause people to be much more successful, even in the traditional reading, math and writing. So, I definitely feel like art is under-utilized. Although we have a magnificent art program at Berkeley High, we have a whole small school, a heart dedicated to art. We just have a wonderful performing art program with dance. I'm in this interview because Ms. D'adamo is a wonderful teacher and she has accepted and encouraged some of my most struggling students. I’ve seen how they have totally bloomed under her welcoming manner.
I: [00:07:59.15] That's so nice. Anything else? I had another question. It was on the tip of my tongue. Do you think maybe there could be a chance where it could be not just art, it could be more of in the traditional aspects, do you think that those learning ways can change and then that maybe someone who didn't like math then has found the creativity in math and then is now a mathematician? Or something like English or science or any of that? do you think that that can change in the future and we can have that higher achieving goal? Do you think we can do that?
DC: [00:08:49.09] I think we can and it's happening more in the humanities. I see English and history teachers more alive to the possibility of using art in their classes. I don't see it too much in math and maybe there's no coincidence that math is an area where most of my students struggle the most. There probably could be and I don't have the knowledge of math to know where the creative vision of math to think of how it could be more artistic but it probably could be too. I see that happening already in the humanities and it could probably happen in more classes too.
I: [00:09:27.21] How do you feel about teachers and staff really pushing that going to college idea? Do you feel like it’s a stress on the kids?
DC: [00:09:45.00] I feel very mixed about it because of course, you want everybody to feel that they have the possibility of going to college. You wanna set the bar high for everybody. But I do think at Berkeley High School, college is defined as the only success. And it's not necessarily the only path. Especially meaning for your college right after high school. I think there are many paths to success. Some of which might be a community college. Some of which might be an internship program. Some might be a training program. It makes my students feel really lousy about themselves if they don't have the grades or the skills to go directly to a four year college. In my world, for my students, I think it's a little bit of a disservice to push that everybody has to go to college. Because not everybody needs to or not everybody should.
I: [00:10:43.04] You answered a lot of the questions perfectly.
DC: [00:10:49.02] (laughter) So, you guys are doing a project? What are you doing with these interviews? Are you gonna put them all together?
I: [00:10:57.08] Yeah. With these interviews I'm just really not sure yet but we're just gathering a lot of information and probably just slamming the greatest things together and making something happen for a high school community. Or maybe we (inaudible) yeah, the school aspect.
DC: [00:11:24.18] Are you taking a class together or?
I: [00:11:26.08] No. We attend the Ashland Regional Community Center (inaudible) California. Basically, what it is is a community center that has a studio, it has a gym, a dance room and a lot of other programs and a lot of other festivities that go on there. This is particular is called What's Your Word. I'm pretty sure you've heard about what it is but we're gonna put it into a podcast and this is definitely gonna be in there.
DC: [00:11:57.17] Cool. I know you'll let Ms. D'adamo know and she'll let me know.
I: [00:12:03.01] Definitely. Now this is the end of the interview. I'd like to thank you for the interview.
Interviewee: Elijah Liedeker, student (Senior)
Interview Location: Berkeley High School
Date: December 6, 2016
(background noise, chit chat)
I: [00:00:09.16] Can you say and spell your first and last name?
EL: [00:00:15.16] Elijah, E-l-i-j-a-h and then Liedeker, L-i-e-d-e-k-e-r.
I: [00:00:22.25] Cool. We are working with leaders from around the county to create a plan for bringing arts and creativity to all students at all schools every day across Alameda County. We would love to hear some thoughts and experiences so we can make a plan that really works for you and your school Can we proceed by asking you a few questions?
EL: [00:00:39.17] Yeah.
I: [00:00:40.25] What makes you wanna go to school every day?
EL: [00:00:43.18] The people. it's all the different people. I enjoy all the different people in my classes. There's so many people who take the world differently. They think of it and they see it differently. Lead different lives.
I: [00:00:59.12] Are they pretty open to other backgrounds and ideas and stuff like that?
EL: [00:01:04.05] Yeah, for the most part. Some people are sort of closed-minded at Berkeley High but that's everywhere. But there are definitely a lot of people who are willing to talk and open up.
I: [00:01:12.23] That's good. It kinda teaches you how to go about dealing with people who are more closed-minded or just raised that way and try to open up their minds a little bit.
EL: [00:01:23.02] Yeah, like the real world, essentially.
I: [00:01:25.10] Yeah, definitely. When I say "the arts" what comes to mind?
EL: [00:01:28.05] For me, visual art. But I also think about like in school you have music, you have preforming arts like theater, you have dance. But for me I always think about visual art. I just think about painting.
I: [00:01:42.01] If you don't want to go to school every day what would help you attend? Like if there's certain days that you're just not feeling it and say, you don't have to do so much with the friends or the social aspect, would there still be a pull to come to school? And if not, it's cool.
EL: [00:02:08.23] I don't know. For me, art class is sort of like that. In Ms. D's class there's some days where we can just do whatever we want and can use our art supplies and do what we're thinking about. Which I enjoy. Junior year I missed ten percent of school. I just didn't come. I didn't enjoy it at all (ding) oops, I meant to silence that. So, having creative outlets. But, creative outlets can be anything I feel like. It's not just art class. I enjoy - I know it's not the arts, but in class you have a structured environment and that’s what makes some stuff in class kind of hilarious is that you have a structured environment to dick around in or whatever, just have fun. (laughter)
I: [00:02:56.22] We were talking about arts and you said visual arts and stuff like that. Do you do any of those out of school, outside or at home?
EL: [00:03:10.04] Yeah.
I: [00:03:10.29] What kind of digital arts are you into?
EL: [00:03:12.27] Painting, like murals. Spray paint. Drawing. I have hella notebooks and shit all over my room. A lot of art. A lot of visual art.
I: [00:03:21.10] Do you write? You said spray paint and like that -
EL: [00:03:25.25] Yeah, yeah.
I: [00:03:27.05] Cool, cool. What do you think of when I say "arts education"?
EL: [00:03:32.24] That's kind of a tough one. I think arts education is difficult because there's always others arguments about what art is before you even get into education. I think there’s the technique aspect but then there’s thinking of art and philosophy of art. I'm in this class, Theory of Knowledge, and it’s about how you know what you know, like a epistemology. We’re doing art right now. it's sort of broad to define. People will say what do you think can be art. Well, if anything can be art, then nothing is art. That doesn't work. I don't know what really comes to mind. I think there’s technique but I think there’s something more to it like, thought process.
I: [00:04:14.00] Do you think your school includes this art education? or just kind of explainthis thought process like you said behind arts?
EL: [00:04:22.23] Yeah, there’s options for both. Studio art is an example of thought process behind art because they want you to - Ms. D wants people to definitely not always make art about what they’re feeling or whatever but make art about subjects. which I think is important. It takes your ego or whatever out of it a little bit. and it’s cool to make art about a subject and research. But then there are a lot of people who that won’t work for them and they just wanna make art and they just wanna do what they wanna do. Which is also cool. That's totally valid. Sometimes you wanna come to school and you just wanna jam and hang out and do what you wanna do. I understand both sides.
I: [00:04:58.16] That’s good. Sounds like a pretty good balance. What's creativity mean to you?
EL: [00:05:03.19] That's so broad. Creativity. I think it's just about making "differently", like finding connections. The brains all about finding patterns. and humor is an example of creativity where you're drawing parallels between things. Even like a meme is an example of creativity where you take some common concept and you apply it to a bunch of different things.
I: [00:05:27.20] And for each picture there’s a different title and kind of has a different joke to it.
EL: [00:05:32.10] Yeah. But I think Ms. D's class is sort of an example of how creativity doesn't just happen. you need structure for it. In class what makes situations funny is that there is a structure. Same with an art class, you have an assignment you have to draw something with these parameters, it has to have the color blue or it has to be this size. Even graffitis, you how ever many letters and you have to fit those parameters. You have your own structure regardless of what you're doing.
I: [00:06:00.06] Yeah. What do you think ignites you to be creative or passionate about art? What inspires you?
EL: [00:06:11.26] I don't know. Definitely other artists. Which I bet everyone says that.
I: [00:06:17.10] Na. What are some of your favorite artists?
EL: [00:06:19.23] I really like Richard Diebenkorn. He's a painter. I really like graffiti. That's what I really like about art. I also like music a lot. Yeah, music inspires me a lot. and then just generally respect for passion. I don't really like ballet but if someone is passionate about it, I can respect that. I can get down with the fact that you just put yourself into something.
I: [00:06:47.02] Do you think your school can do anything to help inspire your creativity anymore?
EL: [00:06:51.25] I think you have to have classes that allow for that. I think you also have to have teachers who are receptive to both the kids that wanna follow the curriculum and they wanna do the assignment and the kids who never wanna do that. Cause our class attracts those people who don’t' like another aspect of it. so I think you need people to be open about both or teachers specifically.
I: [00:07:14.15] Do you think you're getting the most out of your education here at Berkeley High?
EL: [00:07:20.04] Am I getting the most out of my education? I would say so. I think it’s what you make it though. A lot of teachers will say "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink" sort of thing. Ms. D allows us, we can do whatever we want with a project. we can go all out or we can just meet the parameters and do what we need to do. So, often times it's on me. Like, I won't go all out just because there’s no personal drive. I think you need to have that. I often times don't have that.
I: [00:07:56.21] Do you believe you're in a safe learning community?
EL: [00:07:59.29] Yeah, I would say so, yeah.
I: [00:08:02.18] Do you see any opportunities opening up for you with your time here just that maybe kind of outside or just outside of school or opportunities to help further your education or anything?
EL: [00:08:23.22] What do you mean opportunities?
I: [00:08:26.08] Like you think from - yeah, you seen any opportunities opening up maybe extra-curricular opportunities like that? Like for example, have they give you or offered you any internships or maybe different things like jobs at art studios or maybe just even pushed you outside of school?
EL: [00:08:53.11] No, not necessarily, not like the teachers. But the thing about Berkeley High is you have three thousand students so there are a lot of opportunities. There's definitely job opportunities and internships but you have to actively seek it out. Which can be difficult for some people. Like, information is sometimes hard to get at this school. There’s hella kids so it’s understandable. But it could definitely be better.
I: [00:09:18.18] You think your teachers all around - like out of all your classes, do you think they all equally help you succeed?
EL: [00:09:27.13] No. I think there's some who go way above and beyond. My favorite teachers are people who are really into what they’re teaching who balance out the school. Cause there're teachers who I can tell don't enjoy what they’re doing. And then there are teachers who love what they do so much that they - it’s not about the money or whatever, it’s about their passion.
I: [00:09:48.03] do you think too that reflects back on the kids? If there’s a teacher that has a really high positive attitude would kind of help the kid wanna be in that classroom or you know feed off that energy?
EL: [00:10:02.08] Yeah, definitely. I think that’s true for a lot of things.
I: [00:10:05.20] I agree. Is school right now relevant to what you want out of life?
EL: [00:10:13.25] Yeah, to an extent. I feel like Berkeley High is kind of special, a lot of high schools in the Bay Area, where you get to meet a lot of different people. so, you learn about the "real world" is like. I think that's each individual person if you're - yeah, for me it is.
I: [00:10:40.16] What - this kind of my own personal one. What do you want out of life? Kinda after you graduate and it's cool to not know cause a lot of kids are still just getting their feet in water and stuff like that. You had mentioned you’re an artist and stuff like that. Do you see - is there a direction that you want to take with your talents? If you could take it to the top where would the top be?
EL: [00:11:08.01] The top of the top? Probably it actually wouldn't be in art. I feel like arts more like my personal enjoyment. It'd be maybe in politics like non-profit work, something like that. I worked on - do you know what Why One? is in Berkeley? We got this bill to allow for sixteen and seventeen year olds to vote for school board members in the city of Berkeley. So sixteen or seventeen year olds can vote more consistently like make voting a habit. Cause like you saw in the most recent election, something like fifty-two percent or was it forty-eight or about half the population voted which is not good. More people should be voting and caring about what happens to our people in this country.
I: [00:11:50.08] Last question, do you feel like the education you're getting here is preparing you for adulthood?
EL: [00:11:58.02] No. I actually think we should have a class on what it means to be human like on virtue and morality. There are a lot of people - I have experiences with friends or people I'm involved with or whatever, people don't know how to be people sometimes. But, that's everywhere. There's plenty of adults like that.
I: [00:12:17.18] I feel that's a good point that you make. Kind of just having morals. Of course, having just having so many different backgrounds and stuff, you have a lot of different views on how somebody, religious views or whatever the case may be but there should be still a common respect. And also classes should have a mix of different religions, different backgrounds so that kids can discuss that peacefully and know how to do it peacefully at a young age. I think what happens, a lot of the conflict that you see with disagreements today is that people weren’t really taught to accept other things that are different ??? so they don't understand so it kind of creates a negative notion.
EL: [00:13:04.11] it always plays out in a classroom. You always see disagreements whether it be about presidents or race or sexism or something like that, something super controversial people always get really attached and then they can't let their ego or they hate that person for the rest of the year. But then it's also hard cause you would have to have a set curriculum about what being - actually, I don't know if it’s hard to have a set curriculum of what a good person is, you know? Just getting along, you think it'd be easy.
I: [00:13:33.03] Yeah. But, you'd think they figure it out by now but they still just. OK, cool, man. That concludes the questions for the interview, man. You really saw the answers. I appreciate your feedback.
EL: [00:13:49.19] Thank you.
I: [00:13:50.10] One more time, your name?
EL: [00:13:51.05] Elijah.
I: [00:13:51.22] Elijah, cool, appreciate it man.
(background noise, chit chat)
Interviewee: Kimberley D’Adamo, Art teacher and Chair of Art Dept
Interview Location: Berkeley High School
Date: December 6, 2016
I: [00:00:19.04] Hi. My name is Erica. This interview is about arts and creativity for the love of school and a better future for the students. Can you say your name and spell it out for me?
KD: [00:00:38.20] Sure. My names Kimberley D'Adamo. It’s K-i-m-b-e-r-l-e-y. D'Adamo, D'-A-d-a-m-o.
I: [00:00:47.29] What is the subject that you teach for this school?
KD: [00:00:53.20] I teach advanced studio art and also the intro to creative arts classes. And I’m also Department Chair for the Art Department.
I: [00:01:01.19] OK. What makes you want to go to school every day?
KD: [00:01:11.20] I guess I just love my students. I like spending time with them. I think they're really some of the most interesting and fun people that I know. So, yeah, that's probably it.
I: [00:01:27.05] What inspired you to teach the subject that you’re teaching now?
KD: [00:01:30.20] I struggled a lot in school myself and I moved around a lot. Then when I was in high school, I went to three different high schools, but one of the high schools I was in, I had an art teacher who was really caring and looked out for me and helped keep me connected to school and wrote to me all through college. I wanted to do the same thing. I wanted to pay that back and do the same thing for other kids who had dealt with a lot of trauma and crisis.
I: [00:02:04.15] What does creativity mean to you? What does art mean to you?
KD: [00:02:14.29] I don't know. I guess for me I really feel like art is a combination of hard work and play. Making mistakes, assessing those, learning from them and doing things over. For me, I feel like it is a practice that requires a lot of discipline but also a lot of forgiveness of yourself and allowing yourself to try things out.
I: [00:02:44.21] What ignites your creativity, imagination and passion?
KD: [00:02:54.11] I think for me, I get really excited when I think about having the opportunity to work with groups of people to make the future better. I love working collaboratively to do community change. I love doing big school-wide exhibitions. Working with people who don't ordinarily think about doing art and helping connect them with other people who do and see what happens. I really like working with multiple generations like kids and their parents and teachers and the community.
I: [00:03:38.17] What ignites your students’ creativity, imagination and passion?
KD: [00:03:42.29] I think I feel like they're most connected when they have a lot of choice and they get to design projects around things that they're interested in instead of a teacher telling them what the subject matter needs to be. I find they’re most excited when I organize projects where I'm teaching thinking skills and techniques but then giving them a lot of freedom to figure out how they want to apply that and what they want to apply to.
I: [00:04:21.03] What can your school do better to inspire creativity?
KD: [00:04:32.19] I think, for me, I feel like my school does a really good job of inspiring my creativity because I have a lot of freedom as a teacher to design my own curriculum and to change it according to each group of kids and what I think they need. Things aren't scripted for me the way they are for some other teachers in their curriculum areas in the country. I think Berkeley High gives a lot of autonomy to their teachers and allows everybody, not just the art teachers, to be really creative in the way we teach and pick and choose how to teach what it is that kids are expected to know. I feel like they do a pretty good job of allowing us to be kind of leaders in our curriculum.
I: [00:05:26.18] What did you hope to accomplish when you decided to become a teacher and were you able to achieve this with your students?
KD: [00:05:45.10] I think you're always - being a teachers a really weird job. It’s a job where you fail every day. You have to learn from that but not let it under-mind your ability to get up the next morning and try again. Because I have a hundred and twenty students every day, I don't talk to every single one of my students and that's kind of a failure. Every day I know that there are kids in my class who are struggling with something and maybe need a chance to talk and I don't sit down with them and kind of elicit that from them. That's an odd and difficult thing about being a teacher. I think some of my big goals are to make sure I talk to every student in all my classes at least once a week. Not just say their name but sit down and see how they're doing. I wanna make sure that my kids feel like they can come to me if they have struggles both in and out of the classroom and at least have one adult on campus who will listen to them and be in their corner. I want to make a space where they - I don't want them to feel let off the hook. I want to demand from them what I know they’re capable of and not just accept their second best. I feel like that’s a real way that I try to treat my students with the respect is to say "honestly, I know you can do better" when I see that they're not doing their best.
I: [00:07:36.04] You don't want them to grow up as a failure.
KD: [00:07:39.02] It’s not just that I don't want them to grow up as a failure. But I think a lot of times adults tell students like, "oh that's a great job", when it isn't and I think you guys know when we're - I think that doesn't feel good, you know? I think it kind of sends a message of I think this the best you can do and even though it's well-intentioned it kind of under-minds people’s confidence. Sometimes I think the best thing I can do for my students is say no, this isn't what you can do best and I want you to try again or spend another hour on this and see how it changes. And then kind of say, see, this is what you’re capable of, you didn't realize it but you're really capable of amazing stuff. And not give them false praise.
I: [00:08:27.22] What's your main goal as a teacher?
KD: [00:08:33.29] I think I want to restructure the classroom so that learning is a partnership between my students and I and between my students and each other. And that they work as a team to help each other and they work as a team to push each other and they have choice about what they study and how they tackle it. So at least one place in the school doesn't feel like a factory with rules imposed on them and expectations that they don't care about being asked of them. That, I think is a big part of my philosophy as a teacher, is figuring out how to do that with kids. A lot of that means talking about power in the classroom. Who has power and who doesn't and servicing that and trying to work with them consciously to give them power to give feedback to me about what's working and what isn’t and how I can be a better teacher for them.
I: [00:09:44.29] Another question. If there is one thing you could change about this school what would you change?
KD: [00:09:53.03] I think our schools really segregated. I think that a lot of students who are under-resourced. I think there're a lot of students who are not really well resourced. I think that there are a lot of - is this going on a blog or something or is this just for you guys?
I: [00:10:17.26] I'm adding it to data.
KD: [00:10:25.28] OK. I don't want this to be public is what I'm telling you guys. I think that one of the things that happens in schools like ours where you have a large wealthy population that are mostly white and then you have populations of other students who are not as wealthy and that's actually pretty diverse, is that you end up needing to consciously work really hard to make sure that all students have access to resources. And that it doesn't just get concentrated in the hands of a few folks. I think one of the things that we really need to do better as a school is make sure that all teachers are working on that and not just some teachers. I think our kids kind of lose out and they gravitate towards certain parts of the school because they and their families know that certain teams of teachers are gonna work harder at that than others. but that shouldn't be that way. You should have any place in the school feel like it is open and welcoming and accessible to you. I don't know. I think we work on that but we have certainly not solved it.
I: [00:11:36.29] We're not putting your voice out into a blog or whatever -
KD: [00:11:41.15] It'll be very clear that I’m the one that said that though?
I: [00:11:44.19] (inaudible) It's the second time I've heard it today.
KD: [00:11:46.18] Yeah, I'm sure Mr. Byndloss said that too.
I: [00:11:53.08] How do you use art in your classroom?
KD: [00:12:05.10] Well, I'm an art teacher so -
I: [00:12:07.23] How do you express it or how do you teach it?
KD: [00:12:13.02] So my class is different from some art classes in that we're using art to research other topics, other discipline areas. so my students will pick a question or a topic that they’re fascinating by, like you saw the giant squids, I have some students researching science and others will research OCD cause they might be struggling with OCD or some sort of trauma and others will research history. They use art in art class to research big inter-disciplinary topics and understand them better.
I: [00:12:47.19] I was just gonna ask how do you use other subjects to incorporate into your class (inaudible)
KD: [00:12:52.08] Yeah, that's a really good question to put it that way. They spend a lot of time thinking about their other subject areas and also talking to their other subject area teachers about the art that they make in our class.
I: [00:13:06.16] What do see as being the role of arts in educating young people?
KD: [00:13:15.02] I think it should be at the center of every school. I think that art should be the hub where kids are taught thinking skills and how to think through problem solving, how to think through steps of a project, how to explore other topics through visual form. And then all of those skills support the things that they study in English and history and math and science. That, to me, would be a better school system for all kids I think. But, I don't know. I'm biased.
I: [00:13:54.09] How do you feel about schools teaching young people my age or older, about teaching them adulthood? Going outside, out during the day. Do you think that they should put that subject in every school -
KD: [00:14:18.16] in art classroom or just anywhere in the school?
I: [00:14:20.08] Do you feel like schools preparing its students for adulthood?
KD: [00:14:26.01] No. (laughter) No, I don't think it is at all. I think, my kids come in as eleventh graders in my advanced class, and they've always been in classes where they have to figure out what the teacher wants in order to get an A and try to meet that teachers goals. They’ve never been in a class where for a very long period of time they're figuring out who they are or what they care about and how they are going to explore that. Which is the way college and the world works. It's kind of like we just create these kids who are really grade oriented or who decide they don't care about grades because they don't feel they can figure out the teachers system or whatever. They’re either super checked-in or super checked-out. Neither of those two paths lead to really like the way that you can live your life as an adult which is figuring out what you care about and how you wanna make an impact on the world. That's not how schools run.
I: [00:15:28.29] I feel like that’s sets students up for failure almost because it sets you up for depression. You never learn exactly who you are and then you're thrown out of high school because you don't have to be anywhere really and then you're trying to figure out, you have bills to pay, you have all this stuff that you have to learn along the way that you haven’t learned.
KD: [00:15:47.15] You're totally right. It sets up a lot of mental health issues that I see with my students during school, not just when you graduate but a lot of them are having so much anxiety or depression because their basic who they are and what they care about is not honored or seen. They just have to sit in a chair for six hours a day and listen to an adult talking at them and that's terrible for your mental health. I mean, it's just so bad. There's so many ways in which we're not serving kids. It's all sorts of kids at all sorts of levels, academically.
I: [00:16:27.21] I fall asleep in most of my classes.
KD: [00:16:29.14] Yeah. I mean that's not acceptable. You know what I mean? You should be engaged, you're a bright person.
I: [00:16:35.20] It’s just like at my school, compared to you guys, my school is really diverse maybe but low key. A lot of my teachers are goofing off or they're not really interested in the subject. And to me, personally, I wanna be able to graduate high school, get my diploma, get my college degree and study what I wanna study for. I don't know. School is very weird.
KD: [00:17:11.13] It is weird. It's really badly set up. Part of what you're seeing with your teachers not being interested is the same thing. If, as a teacher, I'm told what I have to teach, then I'm not interested in what I teach. And then if I'm teaching something that I'm not interested to you then you're not interested in what I teach. And it just becomes this big circle where nobody at any age group is happy and really, it should be fun and it is should be hard in good ways. You should feel like you grew at the end of the day you should be able to be like wow, I really learned a lot today. I don't know if most students feel that way.
I: [00:17:53.25] Have you worked at any other schools?
KD: [00:17:56.26] I have. I worked at Frank Middle School in East Oakland which is my first school that I worked at. And then I worked at Long Fellow Middle School in Berkeley.
I: [00:18:08.11] OK. Were those different from -
KD: [00:18:12.15] Berkeley? Yeah. Frank was mostly very low-income students of color, they were mostly African-American and Asian. And then Long Fellow is south and west Berkeley and that tends to be more rental apartments. So not only demographic but also I think parent involvement in the city and community is different cause there’s a lot more working parents and a lot more second language speakers in that community. And then it was middle school so they're all crazy.
I: [00:18:54.19] It's a crazy time.
KD: [00:18:56.25] yeah, it's crazy times. But, so those are really different. I worked with a lot of the same students with those same kinds of experiences at the high school but it's definitely not like the majority of my day anymore which is a big difference. My students now are so different. I mean, you met them. They're all super high-achieving, they're super resourced (inaudible)
I: [00:19:24.07] (inaudible) he was very well spoken.
KD: [00:19:27.29] Yeah so it's just a whole different world.
I: [00:19:33.00] Thank you for your time.
KD: [00:19:34.10] You're welcome. Thank you guys so much. Thank you. Great job interviewing.
(background noise, chit chat)
Interviewee: Maria Fong, student (Junior)
Interview Location: Berkeley High School
Date: December 6, 2016
I: [00:00:01.07] Hello, welcome. Can you please tell us your name and spell it out for us please?
MF: [00:00:04.14] My name is Maria Fong. M-a-r-i-a F-o-n-g.
I: [00:00:10.04] Nice to meet you. This is the arts and creativity for the love of school and a better future campaign. we are working with leaders from around to the county to create a plan for bringing arts and creativity to all students at all schools everyday across Alameda County. We would love to hear your thoughts and experiences so we canmake a plan that really works for you and your school. Can we ask you a few questions?
MF: [00:00:39.25] uh-huh.
I: [00:00:40.29] What makes you want to go to school every day?
MF: [00:00:45.01] I think learning. I'm really excited at the potential to learn something around other people.
I: [00:00:56.11] When I say "the arts" what comes to mind?
MF: [00:01:01.06] Immediately I think of drawing and 2-D visual art. But also I'm a violist in orchestra and I do tech backstage for theater and I think the arts includes all that. Dance, all kinds of music.
I: [00:01:26.17] Do you do any of these things in school, in a after school or weekend program, or at home?
MF: [00:01:34.18] I draw all the time at school and I do theater and music in orchestra.
I: [00:01:43.23] What do you think of when I say "arts education"?
MF: [00:01:48.14] Arts education I think is where you use art to learn about other things, art or any other subject.
I: [00:02:03.11] Does your school include arts education in your opinion?
MF: [00:02:09.08] Mostly, I think in art classes I get the opportunity to use art to learn about other things but in other classes it's not so common and we don't experience arts as much.
I: [00:02:29.21] What does creativity mean to you?
MF: [00:02:33.06] Creativity - oh man, this is a hard one, I think. Creativity is when you can find something new in everyday life and combine it with other things.
I: [00:02:52.12] What ignites your creativity/imagination/passion?
MF: [00:02:59.12] I think working with other people and when they want to make art and seeing what they’re doing inspires me.
I: [00:03:11.20] Collaborating.
MF: [00:03:14.01] Yeah. Seeing art from other people who are different than me.
I: [00:03:23.11] Alright. What can your school do to inspire your creativity?
MF: [00:03:34.05] Definitely showing us art that relates to what we're learning about. encouraging us to use art to show our learning which I think schools often use writing the most. But, if we're allowed to use art we can show what we're learning and talk about it in words but also visually or with music or something like that.
I: [00:04:08.00] Do you think you are getting the most out of your education?
MF: [00:04:15.17] Yeah. I think I'm learning a lot and it's exciting to me.
I: [00:04:22.08] That's good. Do you believe you are in a safe learning community?
MF: [00:04:29.12] Mostly, I feel safe learning but I don't always feel safe voicing my opinion which is why I like to draw it out.
I: [00:04:45.06] What opportunities are opening up for you from your education? And what I mean by this is, what is your education that you've gotten so far from school given you in life? What opportunities do you see in your future from the education you have gotten so far?
MF: [00:05:09.20] So far I've learned about a lot of different subjects and it's been really hard for me to just choose one. I think I've gotten the opportunity to mix up different subjects and learn about them at once.
I: [00:05:25.21] That's good. Do your teachers help you to succeed?
MF: [00:05:29.15] Yeah. My teachers are pretty invested in helping us and making sure every student understands.
I: [00:05:42.16] Is school relevant to what you want out of life?
MF: [00:05:46.15] Yeah. I really like the culture of learning new things that school has. I wanna keep doing that.
I: [00:06:04.25] Do you feel you're getting the education you need to prepare for adulthood?
MF: [00:06:13.07] Yeah, I think so. Especially this year, school is helping me figure out what I wanna do after high school. So, I think, especially this year, as a senior I've been getting more prepared for adulthood.
I: [00:06:37.28] Well, thank you for doing the interview and we are done here.
Interviewee: Marli Anglim, student (Junior)
Interview Location: Berkeley High School
Date: December 6, 2016
I: [00:00:01.22] What's your name?
MA: [00:00:02.21] My name is Marli.
I: [00:00:04.01] Can you please spell it for us?
MA: [00:00:05.21] M-a-r-l-i.
I: [00:00:08.11] And your last name?
MA: [00:00:09.10] Anglim, A-n-g-l-i-m.
I: [00:00:13.17] Thank you. We are working with leaders from around the county to create a plan for bringing arts and creativity to all students at all schools everyday across Alameda County. We would love to hear your thoughts and experiences so we can make a plan that really works for you and your school. Can we ask you a few questions?
MA: [00:00:34.07] Yes.
I: [00:00:35.18] Alright. What makes you want to go to school every day?
MA: [00:00:41.05] I think kind of promise for the future makes we wanna go to school. It's not like always getting to actually go to school and learn because I don't learn every day. But, definitely just knowing that if I do get outta high school, if I graduate high school, then it's gonna be a lot better for my future.
I: [00:01:08.05] When I say "the arts" what comes to mind?
MA: [00:01:15.19] For me, everything. A lot of visual art is initially I'll think of drawing, painting, whatever. But, then also performance art I think of. I kind of consider sociology and psychology an art in some ways.
I: [00:01:40.00] Do you do any of these things in school or after school or in a weekend program?
MA: [00:01:49.08] Like art?
I: [00:01:50.17] yeah, do you do any of those arts you named down?
MA: [00:01:53.14] Yeah, I do. I'm in the IB art program at my school. I'm really lucky that I go in to that because it's a lot of art every day which is really great. Even when I wasn't in this class I did art on my own but it was less structured and it was more just for myself. It was drawing and painting.
I: [00:02:19.10] Does your school included arts education? Do you think your school includes everything you named down? Or at least some of the things?
MA: [00:02:34.20] Yeah, definitely. Berkeley High, to me, has so much opportunity as an artist which I think is really great. We have a dance program that you can go into different levels of dance. You can start at beginners and end up in our bigger, more professional shows. We also have so many options for art classes and for music classes.
I: [00:03:01.26] What do you think creativity means to you as a person?
MA: [00:03:06.05] To me, creativity is - sorry. To me, creativity is awareness of my own thoughts and being willing to grow from them. Rather than just learning from a book and just taking in knowledge, taking that knowledge and expanding on it with my own personal opinion.
I: [00:03:47.17] What do you think ignites your creativity, imagination and passion?
MA: [00:03:53.27] I think drawing personally does for me. Also, style like the way that I dress I think helps with my own creativity.
I: [00:04:08.02] Alright. What can your school do to inspire your creativity? if it already does, what can the school do more of?
MA: [00:04:20.25] I think having showcases of art is really inspiring to me. I consider myself more like a visual artist, I'm not really an actress or a dancer or a musician, but I think by exposing myself to acting and music and seeing those performances, enhances my own art.
I: [00:04:46.14] Do you think you're getting the most of your education?
MA: [00:04:51.13] I think I'm really lucky to be at Berkeley High and I think that I'm getting a lot out of my education. I don't know if it's the most. But, I feel like I have gained a lot from going here.
I: [00:05:08.26] Do you believe you are in a safe learning community?
MA: [00:05:13.07] I would say, yeah.
I: [00:05:18.19] What opportunities are opening up for you from your education? What opportunities do you have because of the education they've given you at this school?
MA: [00:05:38.06] I think I've gained a lot of knowledge across a lot of subjects. I've learned a lot about science and math like any school would, but I've kind of learned what I like and what interests me. A lot of that is art and I think I've learned what's it's like, cause our classes they have a lot of high expectations of us, in my art class. I've kind of learned, to some extent, to be what it would be like to be in an art school and have an arts education.
I: [00:06:22.29] Do your teachers help you succeed?
MA: [00:06:28.16] I think more of them do than the ones that don't. I think most of them definitely do.
I: [00:06:35.24] That's good. Is school relevant to what you want out of life?
MA: [00:06:42.11] I don't really know what I want out of life. I think most of high school and middle school I thought that it wasn't but as I'm getting towards the end, I'm a senior this year, I'm starting to think that it can be. Especially taking classes that I wanna take I feel like this could be relevant to my life.
I: [00:07:10.04] Yeah. Do you think of any ways that school can make - can you think of any ways that this school can have the sort of things that would be more relevant to your life or you as becoming an adult?
MA: [00:07:29.03] I think one thing I've noticed in all the classes that I get the most out of typically they will use things that are going on in the actual world. If there's a current event going on the class or the teacher will use it into the lesson which I think is really valuable. Because sometimes I feel like my peers feel like when they get to school it's a whole different world and we're expected to shut out anything else that's going on and just focus on our textbook which is kind of unrealistic to me.
I: [00:08:11.16] Understandable cause it's like school is a certain structure and they have a certain way of teaching and then some of those things it's not gonna be what you're using as an adult. So, yeah. Do you feel you're getting the education you need to prepare for adulthood?
MA: [00:08:33.27] I don't know if I'll know until I'm an adult. Right now, I think I’m learning a lot which is really valuable and I really appreciate that. I feel like there’s some things that I'm not learning that I wish I did. Some practical things like learning how to budget. I really don't know how. I know how to save money but I don't know how to live, you know? I guess it's kind of something that you're expected to learn when you are put in that situation when you become an adult but I think it would be really important to learn that before, so there's some context.
I: [00:09:20.15] When you say live, you mean like the cooking, cleaning, type stuff, like taxes, what not?
MA: [00:09:26.09] Yeah, exactly. Just learning to be an adult. I've thought about this a lot about if it's possible to teach compassion and respect. I don't know if its something that's teachable. I feel like it can be. Just not teachable in a classroom at least. I think your parents can teach it but often times I feel like in school we aren’t really taught that, you know? So, I think that's something that would be really valuable to have as an adult to know that the people around me were taught respect.
I: [00:10:17.14] Of course that is a valuable thing in life, compassion, respect, sympathy, empathy, all those things. Thank you for doing this interview. You are done and free to go.
MA: [00:10:30.01] Thank you so much.
Interviewee: Melissa Jimenez, English teacher
Interviewer: Tauriq Hamilton
Interview Location: Berkeley High School
Date: December 6, 2016
I: [00:00:03.11] This is our first interview at Berkeley High. I'd like to introduce myself first. My name is Tauriq and I go to San Lorenzo High School. I would like to know your name and your position at Berkeley High.
MJ: [00:00:17.09] I'm Melissa Jimenez. I teach English at Berkeley High School. Specifically I'm the professional development leader for the international baccalaureate program.
I: [00:00:31.02] What made you become a teacher?
MJ: [00:00:33.22] I went into teaching because in college I became really passionate about the need to teach students how to learn to communicate and advocate for themselves so they could make the opportunities for themselves in be able to pursue their dreams I guess. It kind of came out of a little bit though a social justice lens. I took a sociology and urban studies course that really made me feel like the main way I as an educator could begin to change society is through the individual relationship that a teacher has with a student. I think it's a really unique job in that way that every student is different so every day you come to work and the way you teach in different, the lessons I plan are gonna be different based on the way my students learn and what interests them, what motivates them. I consider myself a creative person. I teach English cause I love English language arts and I think it allows for a lot of self-expression from students which is something that I personally value. I just have enjoyed, now for ten years, being able to give students opportunities to tap into different ways to express and communicate what they think to the world.
I: [00:01:52.06] Can you give me examples of what you do in your classroom on ways to have them express themselves?
MJ: [00:02:01.10] Yeah. I try to incorporate actually creative writing with almost every unit that I teach in my English class. In IB literature classes, students do a lot of analysis but I have found that if you just analyze, it kills the beauty of the text and the experience of appreciating the literature. I want students to think like writers. I give them opportunities at the beginning of the year to write a personal essay, read some personal essays but at the end of the day what story do you have to tell about your life and what choices are you going to make in the telling of that story in order to reach your audience? If I'm teaching imagery, I also want them writing a story using imagery, thinking about why they chose that image over another. That's generally my approach would be. With short stories it’s the same thing, write a short story and reflect on why you chose the perspective that you did, first or third person, what’s the trade off? They’re still analyzing but they’re getting a chance to write something that means something to them and I think that students tend to remember that better than just studying a text and remembering what happened in the text.
I: [00:03:23.19] That sounds good. I'm sorry, I'm just listening and I forgot my question. I like that answer, I really did. Do you feel like you have a good relationship within your students? Or just the whole classroom altogether?
MJ: [00:03:47.15] Yeah. It's definitely the best part of teaching but also one of the biggest challenges because in public education, we teachers, have such a large class load and class size. So in a typical year if I were teaching full time, I would have close to a hundred and fifty students. Can you imagine having a really deep meaning relationship with all of those students with the amount of time you have every day with them. It is challenging, but I think that's where the writing and the self-expression comes in. Is through their writing I get a chance to sit down with that student one on one when I look at their paper and I leave them quality feedback, we have conferences. I think that really helps to facilitate the relationship so the students that I’ve probably gotten to know the best and I’ve stayed in touch with over time, they come back to me are the ones that were kind of vulnerable their writing and they shared a piece of themselves. I think when a student does that, as a teacher it's important to also share of yourself within an appropriate student-teacher relationship. If a student gives me some information about their background where they're from, I want them to see me as a person too and not just as somebody who is an expert in literature. I think yeah, there's definitely students who come back and visit and I stay in touch with them. Those relationships start in the classroom through discussion about literature, I think through the exchange of stories and story-telling.
I: [00:05:24.23] About creativity, what does creativity mean to you in your own definition?
MJ: [00:05:31.25] Yeah. I think literally creativity ??? to create, to make something. To make something maybe even from nothing. That's, I think the unique aspect that teaching English language arts, specifically offers because students do have the opportunity to make something with their words using language as these tools. I would say most of the creative products that students work on are writing-based which is not what you would traditionally think of in terms of creating a sculpture or a piece of art. I actually don't do that many creative projects in that way. Usually I make one assignment where I give students the option to represent what they know from reading a text through some sort of illustration or what not. but, I do think that creativity is having the opportunity to produce something, whether it's writing or whatever, is really motivating for students. Creativity needs an audience. When you make something, you make it for yourself but you also kind of want to share it with people. I think about how in the arts, they need to have an art show and you have an exhibition and this is what I made. so, in English language arts, I wanna think how do I give students an authentic audience for their art for what they write for what they create so they're not just writing this essay for their teacher to grade and hand back cause that’s not super motivating.
I: [00:07:17.23] What do you think of other relationships with other teachers and other students? Do you feel like those other students are pushing them to their creativity or to their passion? Or is it just a plan like sit and learn, what the norm? I'm sorry, let me rephrase that. Maybe just like a traditional teacher, you know handing out papers, do this and I give you notes and you just learn that?
MJ: [00:07:54.16] Yeah. I've taught in many different contexts. I'm from Texas originally. I taught in a comprehensive high school there for one year and then I moved to Alabama and I taught in a traditional high school there for five years. So, I’ve definitely seen teachers who follow that more traditional model and I have worked with them. I would say here at Berkeley High, the vast majority if not nearly all teachers, especially in our English department whom I interact with the most often, really do appreciate students’ creative potential. And actually this year our professional development focus for all teachers is culturally responsive teaching which doesn't mean teaching about other cultures in class necessarily. It means allowing the student to bring their whole self, their culture, their background right into the classroom and to be honored for their whole self. I think what we're talking about in creativity, giving students a chance to express their whole self in what they're learning, in what they're writing. That's something that actually all teachers are looking to do more of this year and are sincerely working on. I haven't had the opportunity to actually get into other teachers classrooms and see that in action yet, but I’ve heard some really great stories.
I: [00:09:44.27] What is a normal day in your classroom like?
MJ: [00:09:47.08] Very good question. I would say a normal day starts with some kind of hook, engagement activity As Zaretta Hammond says in her book, Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain, you wanna ignite to the brain, right? So, in an ideal day, it doesn't have to be anything fancy but you just have some kind of provocative question that sets up my topic or lesson for the day. Sometimes it’s as simple as just reviewing what we did the day before. But it could also be to view a clip, sometimes we do that, make an observation. Or share a quote and make an observation about the quote. Then we would move into the bulk of the lesson. I think on a typical day, and I don't always teach this way, but I would follow - it's kind of funny because it's actually kind of a traditional method, it's called The Direct Instruction Method, but I would model whatever task or skill I wanted a student to do first. so, I would give them an example. let's say I want them to work on imagery today - that's like the example I used earlier, so I'll show a passage from the book that they’re reading on their own. Then I'll practice annotating like, let’s find the imagery, how is the author using imagery in this passage? And then I let students work on it in their groups and then they're ready to apply it. Whether that’s writing their own story with imagery in it or doing their own analysis of it in a passage. I would say that's kind of a typical day in terms of teaching the skills of content. But I hate doing the same thing every day because if I do, I'm gonna lose students and it's no longer effective. Once I feel like students have those skills and practice them, then I would probably incorporate some kind of discussion day. I have a lot of different discussion formats. I would say about once every three days, you could come into my room and either see students in round table discussions. Sometimes we do fish bowls. Sometimes we do Socratic seminars. Sometimes we do different structured student talk activities where you have concentric circles and students are talking with a partner and then they rotate to the next partner. and through these discussion activities they're practicing the language of the vocabulary of the class and getting a chance to get to know each other better. At least one day a week, the discussion topic won't be anything related to the content of the class. It will be kind of about your life and where are you at? It's culturally responsible teaching. Bringing yourself and your worries and concerns and whatever’s going on with your family, whatever you wanna talk about and share so students are not always forced to fit into this little academic box.
I: [00:12:48.06] Yeah. Like a personal warm-up.
MJ: [00:12:49.21] Yeah. Sometimes that can happen in the warm up part of the lesson too.
I: [00:12:53.22] Nice. That's cool. What would be the average percentage of a participation in your class?
MJ: [00:13:03.04] Yeah. That's been the main thing that I've really focused and worked on as a teacher over the last five years. Because it is very easy for a class to fall into predictable patterns and participation. If I don't structure the lesson or the discussion there will be a few students who raise their hand and volunteer, right? And the then other students who learn that they can just sit there and not say anything like it’s OK like, my teacher doesn’t care or I don't have to speak. What I try to do to maximize participation and usually when this works I can get about ninety percent participation, I would have students practice the question. I'll give them the question ahead of time or whatever the topic is to discuss, work with a partner first, check with a partner so you get some validation of I know what I’m gonna talk about cause my partner thinks it’s an OK idea. And then I’ll just call on somebody at random to share, participate. I don't even let them volunteer. That way I'm not really putting them on the spot because they had a chance to check with their group first and that ensures that every voice is being valued and heard, from my perspective anyway. That's why I do it. Then when it’s a free open discussion, with the round table, it’s a good method because each person shares around the circle for a minute what they think. And then it opens up to the whole discussion and they can speak in whatever order they want, practicing the ??? stepping up and stepping back. Ideally, every kid in my class is talking every day. In the reality it doesn't always happen, I'm not perfect. What I realize that it’s the same kid whose like the one kid who never participates every day but is constantly getting out of it, then that's a red flag for me and I need to think what can I do to engage this student and bring them into the community so they feel like they have something to offer.
I: [00:15:02.19] That is awesome. There’s not a lot of teachers that do that, honestly. So, that's good to know that there’s actual teachers that do that still.
MJ: [00:15:11.11] Thanks.
I: [00:15:13.03] Anything you would like to say before we end the interview?
MJ: [00:15:19.22] No. just that I appreciate getting to speak with you and thanks for caring about this. I'm obviously a teacher because I think about these things all the time and it matters a lot to me. So I appreciate that there are people out there who care about that experience and want to improve the learning experience that we offer students. Thank you.
I: [00:15:41.19] No problem. Thank you. This is the end of the interview.
Na-eem Rommack Frazier
Interviewee: Na’eem Rommack Frazier, student (Senior)
Interview Location: Berkeley High School
Date: December 6, 2016
I: [00:00:24.15] We are working with leaders from around the county to create a plan for bringing art and creativity to all students at all schools every day across Alameda College. We would love to hear your thoughts and experiences so we can make a plan that really works for you and your school. Can we ask a couple questions?
NF: [00:00:45.05] OK.
I: [00:00:46.08] Can you please state your name and spell it for me, please?
NF: [00:00:49.01] My full name? Long full name. My name’s Na'eem Rommack Frazier. First name would be N-a'e-e-m. Last name too? Oh, boy. R-o-m-m-a-c-k F-r-a-z-e-r.
I: [00:01:08.03] Thank you.
NF: [00:01:09.08] i-e-r - whoops.
I: [00:01:14.07] What makes you want to go to school every day?
NF: [00:01:18.17] I'd say, considering that a lot of my childhood has basically been aimed at going to college and getting to study what I want and study the things that I've kind of started to get interested in. I know that basically everything I've been doing here for the past few years has just been setting up to feel confident in a college setting and feel confident in learning the things that I'd like to learn. for example, I'd like to get into anthropology or psychology when I get to college. I feel like there are a lot of basic things that middle school or elementary school wouldn’t be able to teach me that I definitely started to learn in high school.
I: [00:02:05.23] When I say "the arts" what comes to mind?
NF: [00:02:11.12] I used to go to OSA so basically the entire - visual arts, dancing, acting, singing. All of those kind of come to mind, mainly because close to the definition of art that I have. Or basically a specific activity that you do that multiple people can do differently in completely different ways that could basically - it's not necessarily studied, you kind of learn to be more comfortable with specific art. You get to create things with that art. Basically, anything that you can create typically or creatively do on your own and has your own personal kind of spin to it.
I: [00:03:02.21] You said you went to OSA, what did you do there?
NF: [00:03:05.28] There I did visual arts. I did that for the entire middle school. I sucked at drawing when I started there. I definitely got a lot better over time but it was just weird seeing that whole thing happen because I never had anyone really direct me toward improving my artist skill. And that was the only focus there. That was really fun.
I: [00:03:28.13] Did you go there specifically for visual arts?
NF: [00:03:31.22] Yeah. yeah. I was also interested in other things but that was kind of the only thing I really wanted to get into at that time.
I: [00:03:39.11] Why'd you come here?
NF: [00:03:40.09] I think it was around the time that, I think it was probably seventh grade that I think the school started getting more recognition and they started bringing in teachers that weren't really that great at teaching. The academics in general weren’t too great. I realized that if I came back to Berkeley I probably be able to regain that kind of level that I wanted to in terms of -
I: [00:04:08.07] So, you felt like they weren't really focusing on academics there? They're more focusing on the arts?
NF: [00:04:13.18] They were but it was a little they were putting more money into the art programs rather than updating the academic teachers on certain things. I didn't even really take Algebra 1 because I was taking this alternative that didn't really help me at all. I can't really blame that on the school because they were kind of changing progressively and I was just one student. So I decided to take my future into my own hands and come back here.
I: [00:04:41.04] Do you do anything outside of school, after school, weekend programs, at home any hobbies, do you have?
NF: [00:04:50.09] Yeah. Two of the main things that I do, one, I'm in martial arts class that I've been taking since I was little. I started with Tae Kwon Do and I kind of progressively went to Aikido. that, but then I also go to a figure drawing workshop every Friday. Just figure drawing, it's basically just posing for other people to draw you. Yeah.
I: [00:05:15.02] What do you think when I say "arts education"?
NF: [00:05:20.26] I usually think about art history and also just as I said, I went to OSA so a lot of the stuff they did there. But art history is a major one that I think of when I think about public schools and things. Then art programs like I have here with studio art that basically teach you to recognize other artists and teach you to become a greater artist rather than getting better at trying specifically at getting better at sculpting specifically.
I: [00:06:01.16] Do you know how many art classes you have here available?
NF: [00:06:05.25] I actually don't considering the small schools and I only just focused on the one that I knew a lot of - cause I'm in BIHS so I kind of looked at the other BIHS students were going toward. I was interested in studio art so that’s just the only one I looked at. So, I don't really know any of the other ones.
I: [00:06:26.22] Do you know if there's a lot of different type of -
NF: [00:06:29.27] Yeah. I know that my teacher she has I think she has a general visual arts class or I think she does drawing. I think she’s doing cardboard sculpting in another class right now. I know there’s a variety but at the other small school and through the arts and humanities school so they have their own art shows that they do every year. So, I know there’s a bunch of classes that are around the school. There’s a variety.
I: [00:07:09.21] Does your school - I’m gonna skip that. What does creativity mean to you?
NF: [00:07:16.01] I think just being able to kind of take yourself out of the things that you kind of look at every day, kind of creating something out of those sparks of imagination. Just spontaneous ideas you have or spontaneous feeling you have that you want to depict or somehow represent. It's taking the step forward to doing it. I, for a very long time, have been wanting to write a few stories that I haven't gotten to because I'm afraid that I’m not going to be creative enough to come up with a certain idea for that overall concept of writing a story. So I end up just giving up on it. But, honestly, all it is, is me letting out what comes to mind rather than creating something.
I: [00:08:17.25] Yeah. and it doesn't have to be right away. It's all a process. Where you start at the base and then you add on top of it to get to the creativity to the story that you wanna tell. What brings out your creativity, imagination and passion?
NF: [00:08:38.16] I'd say when I'm working with other people on certain ideas, that's definitely when I naturally feel obliged to come up with an idea that improves upon theirs. That's kind of where it builds up. When I'm doing stuff alone it's kind of harder because I have expectations that I myself feel I need to fit in. But if I have someone else working with me - I'm actually a part of a story-telling club. Right now, we're all doing this, we planned at the beginning of the year was that we'd come up with a singular story or a singular world that we would all fit our stories into and that's really exciting for me. So that’s where I'm starting to kind of get my creativity from.
I: [00:09:28.16] And is the story-telling club here?
NF: [00:09:30.18] Yeah.
I: [00:09:32.10] It’s a after-school club?
NF: [00:09:33.04] Hmm.
I: [00:09:34.00] What can your school do to inspire your creativity?
NF: [00:09:41.05] Like what have they been doing or what can they do?
I: [00:09:45.04] What can they do?
NF: [00:09:45.25] I'd say probably what they're doing now is pretty good. Just kind of having these opportunities open. But I would say that maybe if there’s a larger focus on different ways in which you can come up with different ideas or put your extra foot forward and into a project. with the class that I'm in now, it’s kind of giving you space to work as you need to and giving you a motivation to work. But, I kind of feel like if there was a more specific focus on how we could do that rather than just letting us freely do these things. I think it would be more a little more beneficial.
I: [00:10:38.16] Do you feel like you’re getting the most out of your education?
NF: [00:10:45.29] I mean if we’re looking at the academic side, I'd say that I see a lot of people complain that there’s not much of a focus on how to survive as an adult in a business world. It's just kind of giving you basics for basically college. It’s kind of like setting up - especially cause all them math classes. You'll have those problems that relate like, Bob has eight pineapples or something and blah blah blah blah blah. But that's not really gonna help much in an actual situation. You kind of have to learn how to pay taxes and things like that. I feel like that would be more beneficial.
I: [00:11:29.16] Yeah. That’s my last question actually. Do you feel like you’re getting education to prepare you for adulthood?
NF: [00:11:36.29] Yeah. As I said it would basically just be college. If you wanna call that adulthood, sure. But -
I: [00:11:41.19] It's not.
NF: [00:11:42.15] Yeah. It's pretty much not.
I: [00:11:44.28] You're lost. You have to figure things out. They prepare you to apply for college but it’s a totally different experience once you’re out there. What do you think your school can do to prepare you?
NF: [00:11:57.14] Honestly, cause this year, for example, I filled all of my empty spaces. I had a math class last year and now I'm outta that so I'm taking African-American Psychology. Cause I was interested in that. But, if there were more classes that were actually focused on how to survive as an adult. I'm not really sure what any specific examples could be but -
I: [00:12:27.16] Exactly, cause you never know what you’re gonna get in to.
NF: [00:12:29.17] Exactly.
I: [00:12:30.02] The teachers have been in that place so they should know cause, but they don't teach it.
NF: [00:12:35.09] I mean, they went to college, most likely - well, yeah, they did go to college so all they really care about is basically oh, there’s this topic that I’m interested in or that I can teach and I'm going to put that forward as much as possible. Those kids can figure it out because I figured it out. So, that works.
I: [00:12:53.17] Yeah. You most definitely need to know how to pay your taxes. How to make money. How to spread your money. How to save money. Buy a cars very important.
NF: [00:13:04.23] And honestly, when I learned that sixteen year olds, I was kind of at the age where you were gonna start thinking about getting a car, getting a license. I was completely baffled because number one, I'm scared of cars just because of the fact that I'm gonna to have to learn to drive one.
I: [00:13:22.27] I still don't know how to drive.
NF: [00:13:24.02] Exactly. It’s just kind of thrust upon you and I feel like it’s based on an old mindset that’s convinced that it’s a character building or it’s just a process of growing. Learning to do all of these things but with all of this updated technology number one, everything’s a lot easier to do. We're not as active. Some say we're not as active a generation of people. I can't even imagine driving a machine through the outside world. It's frightening. But, that’s just because I'm used to a different perspective than the people who did learn by trial and error. Like, my dad just got his license because it was so difficult for him but he was expected to do that sort of thing.
I: [00:14:21.16] Yeah. I feel like I've been able to get by with public transportation so far and tagging along with others who know how to drive and everything. But, there comes a time where you do need, if you wanna get a better job and its further off, you do need to get a car because it’s kind of far away. It should be taught in schools how to drive. It used to be taught in schools but it’s not anymore and that’s an issue because some people just don't know how to. Everybody doesn't take a class to learn how to drive, some people just learn from other people and don’t know how to do it.
NF: [00:14:58.13] Yeah. I think there was - my dad was telling me, I think he said it started around the time that he was in college, it was taken out of high schools and put into colleges as a course. I guess it’s Home studies, I guess where you just learn to cook and things. It makes so much more sense. I don't know how to really cook. I just know how to bake two things. But, I need money to get an oven, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Kind of taking it back to art, definitely I'm in these classes because they’re offered and I'm interested but if we had those classes I would have disregarded all of those. Even if it is helpful and it’s fun, I'm also not saying it’s a waste of my time because it’s definitely been helping me think, but looking at priority I would definitely -
I: [00:15:58.23] I think there should be a balance in between art because it helps the mind develop and relay it to certain things in life that you cannot connect using other classes that you may take. It’s a whole different process and helps the brain think in a different way. But, also we do need to learn how to survive as adults and they're not teaching us how to be adults or teaching us how to take unnecessary orders.
NF: [00:16:26.02] Yeah, exactly. Something that I've been thinking about a lot actually is - over the weekend actually, I just did my SAT and then I came home great, fine I have all this homework, I'll justrelax for a day and then I relaxed for the next day. What I realized was that school, a big part of it, is that you’re around people so you’re not really allowed to be comfortable, you’re kind of in an awake state. The point for school, for me, it’s a place for me to be productive because I'm not gonna be too productive at home or uncomfortable. It's a place where I’m leaving my place of comfort, I'm learning to adapt to different situations and places so then when I do grow up to be an adult, ill understand that I can’t stay comfortable unless I’m doing a certain amount of things. The summer before last I went to China. I was kind of in a dorm room situation, but I talking to a lot of students and one of them, he moved five times throughout his life because not only was it that his parents, I don't know I guess there might have been a divorce or something like that, but basically he was in a situation where he was supposed to adapt. So, what each of his schools also taught him along with the normal subjects, is how to of course adapt, but with those subjects there’s such large concepts and each school kind of teaches them a little bit differently. It kind of taught him to understand the basics and from there he’s at an amazing college and he understands a lot because he knew the basics of everything he needed to do rather than the complexities of one perspective.
I: [00:18:24.09] Do you believe that you’re in a safe learning environment?
NF: [00:18:29.09] Safe, meaning like?
I: [00:18:32.28] Are you safe emotionally and physically?
NF: [00:18:36.28] Well, I mean honestly, of course this sounds a little, I'm not gonna say hippie, but there’s no real safe place honestly. I've been seeing a lot of the faculty and the teachers go in and out of the school over the course of my four years at this school and my other schools and basically, what I started to realize is that, as I said before, they’re just people who, not recently but eventually did come out of college, get a job and then found a career in this thing that they’re interested in and they’re good at and then they kept going with it.
I: [00:19:14.24] Not necessarily all of them are good at it.
NF: [00:19:17.01] Yeah (laughter) That is actually true. It’s basically for them it’s about survival. With us, were just kind of kids of people in the neighborhood who go to this big building.
I: [00:19:34.04] You have to be here.
NF: [00:19:34.23] Yeah. To pick up the skills that they learned. In terms of safety, especially considering having so many protests and walk-outs here, and for good reason, it doesn't really feel like the fantasized idea of what a school was when I was little. Now, it’s kind of a place where I pick up skills. It doesn't even feel like a place of safety or a place of structure. It’s just kind of a location.
I: [00:20:07.19] That doesn't really sound like a - from what I'm hearing, it doesn’t really sound negative.
NF: [00:20:12.20] Yeah. It's not negative either, it’s just kind of a place. In terms of feeling safe here, I mean, I've seen policemen walk through the campus a few times. It didn't really scare me but I was a little curious about why they were there. I didn't ask anyone because I didn’t feel it was necessary because as I said before, it was just the location. When you talk about a home or a house, its personal. This isn't like that at all. I guess that has to do with the Kung-Fu thing I was saying before. so, not really safe and not really unsafe.
I: [00:20:51.18] What opportunities are opening up for you from your education here?
NF: [00:20:58.19] Considering that I’m in BIHS, I’ve been told that a lot of schools like that so that is definitely an opportunity that kind of opened up for me. But, also looking at the fact that here they do definitely they represent and they award African-American students for (inaudible) yeah, it's amazing. When I was in elementary school they did not care about the black kids.
I: [00:21:33.06] They don't. They actually teach history and then kind of shame you when you try to speak out. When I was in school they kind of shamed me about speaking out about how history is incorrect. They put your people down and you have to sit there and listen to it.
NF: [00:21:50.22] As a matter of fact, when I was in the third grade, all since kindergarten all my friends had been white, and when I learned about slavery all my friends were like wow, that's amazing that you’re ancestors went through that stuff. But the immediate thing I thought was oh, my god, all my friends are white, I trust white people, oh no! And then they cut it if off. The lessons were just over then. After that all I thought about black people were that they were victims and that we were victims of this and that. We didn't really learn about the civil rights movement. We just learned that Martin Luther King was just one of the good ones. Malcom X was one of the OK ones, you know? It didn't -
I: [00:22:33.13] It’s an opinion. Cause I kind of like Malcom X more because he was more -
NF: [00:22:38.09] Oh no, me too, for sure. It was just they basically of course with the whole, what would Martin Luther King say when they look at -
I: [00:22:47.15] It's because Martin Luther King didn't do anything violent and -
NF: [00:22:50.02] yeah. But neither did Malcom X. he just kind of - the things that were associated with him -
I: [00:22:53.25] he put a more force into it. Yeah. He had more force with it and he was just gonna stand there and do some speeches. And they like people to stay in their place kind of thing which is kind of unnecessary once you’re being harassed and your people are being burned every single day. I don't know how you’re gonna stay in your place.
NF: [00:23:12.15] Yeah. With Martin Luther King, it was just kind of the language that he used was so flowery for the - like oh, we like that. I'm into it. And they didn't feel like they were being blamed for anything but they didn't listen to everything he said. It’s an forewarned for being black.
I: [00:23:30.24] Its ??? Who do you think made that happen for you? Or what exactly what class or program made that happen?
NF: [00:23:39.18] I can't even really say it was a class or program. I wasn't in the Berkeley schools for my middle school experience, but I did notice that there were changes that sort of happened over that course of time. Of course, with all the shootings that happened, there was an assembly we had last year where there where we all went to, I forget what theater we went to but, for an entire day all the black students I guess, I'm not really sure if it was in a small school or if it was the entire school, but they all went to the auditorium. And all of the other students were in their classes. and the entire day was dedicated to black history and a lot of people didn't go to school that day because they thought it was waste of time because of this and that which is frustrating. But what I noticed was that there are two parts to Berkeley that I noticed. there’s the genuine Berkeley where it comes from Oakland where people who are actually affected by these things and care about these things. And then there’s the ??? Berkeley. I noticed this with a lot of my friends and my friends' parents, they just wanna, not really associate with the cultures, but they wanna take the cool parts of other cultures and kind of -
I: [00:25:06.04] Cause it's so fun.
NF: [00:25:08.05] Yeah, basically. My friends' mom, she used to have all these, what was it? I don't know. What’s the elephant god? do you know what it was? Well, she had little figurines of him all over her house and she wore the pants -
I: [00:25:28.02] Was she actually part of that?
NF: [00:25:30.08] Oh, no, she's very white. And that was her whole thing and I didn’t really see why that was wrong as a kid -
I: [00:25:36.18] I mean, I understand if you decide - I'm OK with it if you decide to that's gonna be my culture. I really connected to this and I'm gonna make this my culture. Not because I like the decorations and I think it’s so cute -
NF: [00:25:52.12] That was the thing she did. And she had the pants, the kind of baggy-ish pants. It didn't really ever seem too much of a problem to me because I thought it was cool too. I just didn't completely involve myself in it. I remember I was really into Buddhism as a kid and people are like oh, I guess you’re a Buddhist and I'm like oh no, I can't.
I: [00:26:10.18] You can be interested -
NF: [00:26:13.04] I can be interested but I can't be a Buddhist unless I actually commit. That was something I've noticed is very open-ended here to the point where it really shouldn't be if we're considering the fact that were representing them a lot of the time. And social media, maybe, but yeah. That's what I’d say in terms of stuff that have benefited me the most it would just be the focus that they’ve had on black students, uplifting black students in those ways, seeming like they’ve uplifting black students.
I: [00:26:48.13] Do you feel like your teachers help you succeed?
NF: [00:26:52.07] Yeah, Id' say so kind of just in terms of keeping themselves organized and making sure that the assignments are kind of manageable. I would say that cause I always figured that teachers didn't like me at certain points and then I realized that they just really couldn't care less. My Mandarin teacher - I guess I'm just calling her out at this point, for the past four years, I've had a really hard time in that class. Mainly because I care so much about my emotions that I want to express them and feel them as much as possible. Basically her main thing is that she, as a language teacher, she's not obliged to hold your hand throughout the whole process. She is obliged to give you everything that she can for us to study on our own. The only problem I have with that is that as a teacher, if there's students that are having trouble, you should definitely put in a little bit more effort to help them rather than expecting more from them. I've notice that a lot with a few of the teachers here and a lot of the kids can definitely respect it cause they’re topics that involve analyzation. so like my English classes, if you don't do well in that class it’s because you didn't put in enough effort to, not really have an opinion but express your opinion or actually do the assignments. so, in that case I haven’t really felt like they did anything wrong. But in terms of classes like with my math classes, those teachers have been great because they have definitely if you needed hand-holding, they definitely gave it to you because its math and its stupid (laughter).
I: [00:28:39.29] Yeah. I’m most definitely think teachers should have the patience and the mindset to want to help those students. If you want to become a teacher it’s all about helping someone towards become adult and you have to be passionate about that. You can’t have a short patience or whatever. It takes time. You can't just hand them the work and tell them to do it cause then it’s just a job. Being a teacher, it’s a career and you should be passionate about that otherwise you’re in the wrong field cause its dealing with children and shaping the future and it’s a very serious job and it’s not something that should be taken lightly.
NF: [00:29:21.08] Yeah. With my art teacher and my environmental science teacher last year, those have been my two favorite teachers because they actually care so passionately about the topic. It’s their favorite thing to do. Their favorite thing to discuss. You can definitely see that and they want to share that with people so that’s where I think teachers should come from but it’s such a - as you said, "it’s a career", so that’s where you should be coming from. We need so many teachers now with all these different topics that we’ve decided to create. my psychology teacher and he's from New Orleans or something and he has no idea what’s wrong with this school. The way that we do things and think, he’s not used to it at all. it’s just because I feel like were still a little too vague with a lot of the classes that we want students to study but we don't really have the specific tools to teach them properly sometimes. Again, with that psychology class, the teachers great but when I went into the class, I expected African-American Psychology and it was really just psychology because no one told him what to do. No one told him about the textbooks that we were meant to have. He just found that out on his own. So, he had to create the curriculum all by himself without any idea of what it was supposed to be because that’s not what he teaches usually.
I: [00:31:03.16] What can the school do to support your teachers? Because it sounds like a commutation issue?
NF: [00:31:10.26] Yeah. I’d say that it would definitely be really good if they just had a set amount of classes, then they had descriptions and they had textbooks, they already had that all arranged. And then they had teachers who could follow those procedures as well as kind of putting in their own twist on it. Rather than just having the teachers teach by themselves and having them cater to just a textbook that they found off the long list of textbooks that they could have found. maybe it’s just because we're in a very liberal area where it’s all about individual -
I: [00:31:57.03] So, it's kind of like without giving the teacher a straight structure in schedule on this is what you need to teach by this time, this is what you need to teach, he has the freedom to be able to teach what he wanted about African-American studies in his way. I kind of like that idea.
NF: [00:32:20.10] I mean, I also like it but as long as you have - because he came here without anything. He just had a classroom -
I: [00:32:27.24] So they just hired him for -
NF: [00:32:29.19] They just hired him because he's like oh, you do African-American studies? Great, come on.
I: [00:32:34.06] Oh, he does? Is that what he did -
NF: [00:32:35.26] Yeah, he does African-American studies but in history and I think another class (inaudible)
I: [00:32:42.09] Oh, so it’s not the same psychology -
NF: [00:32:44.29] Yeah. That's the thing. Cause it said Africa-American Psychology and then he came in and he was like OK, cool, I can do the history but what’s this psychology about it? (inaudible)
I: [00:32:56.14] Just because it says African-American doesn't mean it goes all together.
NF: [00:33:01.01] Pretty much. Also with my US history class, I guess they do have a curriculum but it depends mostly on the teacher. Although I find that cool, it kind of feels like some teachers aren’t prepared completely for certain classes and then it completely falls apart.
I: [00:33:19.20] Is your school relevant to what you want to do outside? Well, life after this?
NF: [00:33:26.04] I mean, kind of, not completely. I feel confident that this school can teach me properly in the ways that they see as properly and I just kind of have to go with. Cause the things I wanna study in college have pretty much nothing to do with the classes I have right now. I mean, psychology I do wanna do that. Anthropology, they do have those classes here. I didn't sign up for them. I don't know why. But, if I did it definitely would have been on the path but it would have been a little bit more difficult for me to transition seeing that when you go in to college it’s kind of like when you have classes like psychology, you’re starting over and you’re doing it all from scratch. the fact that high schools, from elementary school - what is it K-12? That’s a system, that's an ongoing system that they’ve created. and the college is suddenly, OK, well were gonna start over, were gonna do this, we're gonna do that.
I: [00:34:36.13] And that's all just stuff that you need for your life because you can learn, you can teach yourself anything on the internet.
NF: [00:34:41.25] You can choose the right things.
I: [00:34:44.11] You just need the piece of paper to show that you actually did the work.
NF: [00:34:47.15] Yeah. I guess it’s just meant to look official. Here they definitely offer a lot and that’s what I appreciate about this school. I guess it’s just really on me that I didn't do all the things I wanted to do but I guess I'll feel a little more confident going into college, rather than if I came out of OSA and then went into college. I guess. But, there might not be any difference. I just couldn't know.
I: [00:35:20.20] What grade are you in?
NF: [00:35:21.17] Twelfth.
I: [00:35:23.05] OK. Do you know anybody who goes to any other public school?
NF: [00:35:28.23] Not any other public school that I know of.
I: [00:35:32.23] You don't have any friends who (inaudible) Do you know anything about other public schools? Like any other schools compared to yours?
NF: [00:35:41.00] I only really know anything about OSA and here.
I: [00:35:45.17] (inaudible)
NF: [00:35:47.22] I'm sure. No, I know, yeah. That's the thing. Once I got out of elementary school I figured, hey, I guess I'll go to OSA that seems kind of fun. And then I didn't like it so then I came back here. Then I realized that I hadn't even considered anything else. Berkeley is such a contained place, I feel. Once I go to Oakland, they’re coming from all these different schools I’ve never heard of. That feels weird. I’m OK with it cause honestly I’m gonna be moving forward in a specific direction and I couldn’t' really -
I: [00:36:27.25] I actually feel really like the Oakland School District and here are the best schools. I don't know. I went to school in San Leandro. She goes to ??? I went to that school. It’s not that great. They don’t really have that many art classes. the teachers are not great, they’re kind of rude. It’s not helpful toward your growth. It’s just very draining, mentally because it’s just strict this, you sit there. If someone tells you what to do, type of thing. I don't know. how do you feel about it?
I(2): [00:37:08.22] (inaudible) A lot of the stuff there its - probably only my favorite class is ceramics. That’s where I mostly express myself (inaudible) A lot of the stuff I’m not really that interested in cause the teachers they goof off a lot (inaudible) They’re very strict and they’re also strict with our headphone policy now. I'm more of a music type person and I love listening to music. It calms me down. (inaudible) of how my school is with all the drama we have up there. So we have anger problems so music is my passion. They’re making that more strict now with headphone (inaudible) they don't allow you to have anything, you can't even have anything in your head.
I: They would never let me wear a head wrap on my head or anything - not even a hat, not just a head wrap. They would tell me to take it off. It’s not like I was gonna do it anyway. But, I don't know. Some of their rules are semi-racist but without being racist type of thing.
I(2): [00:38:31.06] One of my friends (inaudible) at her wardrobe at high school, they care more about materialistic things than -
I: [00:38:41.18] than actual education.
I(2): [00:38:43.21] and the reality of it, cause you know if you really look at it (inaudible) headphones, that’s just material stuff. Were here to get our education. I'm there to pass my classes and also go to college, for real. When you look at it, I even told my friends, you know, all they care about is materialistic stuff up there. (inaudible)
I: [00:39:09.06] and their not giving you their best education, it’s the bare minimum. Thank you for your time.
NF: [00:39:17.14] Oh, geeze, I forgot this was an interview. That's actually kind of interesting cause really the only other public school I really think or know about or compare anything to is my cousin in the Bronx. I visit there every summer. Basically, he seems really happy with it but it’s just because he got to learn everything he wanted to learn. He actually wants to be in computer science but he also really, really likes math. So, everything that they did there he was like, great. Even if it’s not the best teaching, I'm into it, so that’s fine. The only people I’ve really heard that enjoy public schooling have been people who have been really interested in one topic. If you’re just there to learn - I can't say I've experienced that end of public schooling, but it’s unfortunate. I guess college is supposed to be like your saving grace. But they want a lot of money. You’re expected to do a lot to get there. That’s no fun.
I: [00:40:39.16] Yeah, absolutely not.
NF: [00:40:42.15] I'm sorry to hear that.
I: [00:40:45.10] High schools not the best. every single time we go to a new high school, it’s like everybody’s high school is better. You guys have Pilates and a full gym and it’s like what did I go to high school for? (laughter) We didn't have anything.
NF: [00:41:04.09] I mean, honestly, you’re gonna hear a lot of people giving you all the bad things about their school. honestly, what I kind of see is kids are just - I always kind of put it on the white people here cause I've personally in every class I've ever been in, I've had white people all around me. I’ve compared myself to them no matter what the case. Even if I did better at something, I would compare myself to them. I always say oh, they’re the privileged one, they’re the Berkeley people. With all their big, nice things.
I: [00:41:42.16] I feel like the white Berkeley people, the hippies, are the reason why you have all this stuff here. They’re the ones who are protesting and standing on the corner with petitions and everything.
NF: [00:41:53.26] There were a lot of students who organized the walk out, but I feel like that confidence only comes from the fact that we have white students with us.
I: [00:42:01.28] You wouldn't be able to do that at an all-black school. You wouldn't be able to do that.
NF: [00:42:05.18] Exactly. I was looking as we were walking down the street, I was seeing all the cars that stopped for us. I was like oh, they’re supporting us and then I realized if I was anywhere else they would’ve run us over. They wouldn't have stopped. They would’ve started complaining. And that's fine, that makes more sense. This is a fantasy kind of city. I never really liked that because I was more of a Bronx. so, it all seems way too flowery for me. I kinda got used to it cause it's-
I: [00:42:36.06] it's Berkeley.
NF: [00:42:38.13] Yeah, pretty much. But it was good to talk to you both, yeah.
I: [00:42:43.08] Thank you for the conversation. it was nice talking to you too.
Interviewee: Wardell Myles, Intervention Specialist/Counselor
Interview Location: Berkeley High School
Date: December 6, 2016
I: [00:00:02.12] We are working with leaders from around the county to create a plan for bringing arts and creativity to all students at all schools everyday across Alameda County. We would love to hear some thoughts and experiences so we can make a plan that really works for you and your school. can we proceed by asking you a few questions?
WM: [00:00:19.28] Yeah.
I: [00:00:20.23] Cool. Could you state your name, first and last, and spell it.
WM: [00:00:26.27] My name is Wardell Myles. That's W-a-r-d-e-l-l M-y-l-e-s.
I: [00:00:34.19] And what is your title or your role here at Berkeley High?
WM: [00:00:39.18] I'm the Case Manager with the RISE Agency. We have a partnership with the school and we work with about a hundred plus kids at the school. Provide academic support, extra counseling, case management, family support, things of that nature.
I: [00:00:58.06] OK, cool. What is something that makes you wanna come to school every day?
WM: [00:01:05.04] Basically, I like working with young people. I grew up in an environment where we had a lot of adult figures and a lot of adult figures who looked out for us in our community. I walked down the street and I knew everyone’s name. They always took care of me and made sure I was OK. When I came up to the Bay Area, I kind of just volunteered at first, working with students. Then a lot of the students I started working with I realized that a lot of them didn't have some of the things I had growing up. I made a lot of connections with them. I realized a lot of students were appreciative of some of those things, some of those connections. That's why I'm here every day, is the connections I have with students.
I: [00:02:02.24] What does creativity mean to you?
WM: [00:02:08.02] Creativity basically is - this is a very interesting question. Creativity is just the way someone can just express themselves, I guess. Actually, it’s a very difficult question. For me, creativity for me is just the way I express myself, whether that’s through music, whether it’s through drawing or just you writing. It’s just basically my way to express what’s going on in my head.
I: [00:02:50.22] On the inside, in a unique, personal way.
WM: [00:02:57.05] You probably answered it better than me, yeah. Basically, yeah.
I: [00:02:59.24] Right on. Are there certain things that sort of ignite your creativity or passion? Just that pushes you?
WM: [00:03:11.05] There are certain things. Whenever I see numbers or patterns, that really fuels my creativity. If I see a pattern, if I see a group of words, I'll try to figure out if there’s a pattern to the letters. Even if there isn't one there, I just look for it. Or if I see a group of numbers I always look for patterns. I think, for me personally, I've always been kind of like that. I like patterns in things and some kind of - it could be in order or disorder, it doesn't have to be - I just look for something that a pattern that I can use to make sense of something.
I: [00:04:03.16] I like the way you think cause I feel that I do that sometimes myself. And just being an artistand stuff like that, it makes you’re a very visual person and you paying attention to detail. so, that’s a good thing. Working with these kids that you were close to, do you see certain things that kind of ignite their passion more than other ones? Is there something that you see, patterns that you see with kids, kind of getting more creative when certain things come up?
WM: [00:04:34.26] You talking about in terms of assignments?
I: [00:04:37.18] Let’s just say in general. It could be in certain assignments. It could be in school. Is there certain things that make them kind of wanna get involved? Do you think that you could be that key that when they come across you, someone who takes that extra time to help connect them in, they're more receptive?
WM: [00:05:03.03] What do I see that helps kids become more inspired? One thing I see is that when students make a connection to someone I feel like that definitely fuels something in kids to push harder. My relationship with students is such that it's not just like we just don't talk about school stuff, we talk about what’s going on in life. Talk about what’s going on in sports world. We talk about what’s going on in the classroom. What’s going on in politics. hey, are you getting ready for this new Star Wars movie that’s coming out. So, I feel like we make a connection outside of the classroom then it allows me to work with young people better. When we have something else to talk about. Obviously, school comes first. That's why we're all here. what I've found is that when you actually can be like, friend, then it's easier for me to work with students. I'm not sure if I'm even answering the question correctly but -
I: [00:06:27.25] Yeah. I hear what you're saying. That was one of those things that helped me through high school a lot too, was when I saw that a teacher genuinely cared about me, what I had going on, I just respected the teacher more. And when it came to what they wanted for me, they weren't just telling me something cause it was their job. They actually cared and they wanted something for my future.
WM: [00:06:53.27] And also that's what we're talking about. One thing I notice is that when you actually listen, I try not to just give opinion after opinion. Itry to just listen. Then, if my opinion is asked, I'll always say, look, I'll tell you what I feel, I'm not one hundred percent sure you’re gonna wanna hear it, but I'll always be honest with you. What I found is that when you actually listen and you really, really listen, and someone knows you’re listening, that plays a big role too. You're not trying to just preach.
I: [00:07:27.11] it definitely brings out understanding and I think that’s really powerful definitely for the youth. Do you think that this school can do more to help ignite your passion? Or help you out in general at all?
WM: [00:07:53.07] Schools can always do more with resources and things like that. Since I'm not part of the school district, our agency’s a lot more maybe flexible so we have time with students outside of the classroom. We have trips we take, whether it’s just going to movies with the students or going bowling or going to Marine World or something like that. Our relationship is probably a little different than the average teacher where were just assigning grades. we aren’t really assigning grades. I don't know how much the school can necessarily help us, per se.
I: [00:08:41.28] Do you see any ways - does anything come to mind, though, that would make it a little easier, smoother for you?
WM: [00:08:50.16] Let me see. I would say that, not necessarily for me, but talking to students, I would say that sometimes teachers aren’t always accessible. Sometimes that’s just the job. Sometimes teachers get a free period during the day, kids have classes and stuff like that. These are just discussions I’ve had with kids. Sometimes it’s hard to connect with the teacher if the teacher has a full class. They might not necessarily have office hours regularly after school. They aren't necessarily accessible at lunch. Then it's like, well, how do they really talk to their teachers? Or how do the teachers get to know them? Or how do they seek extra assistance? Things like that. I guess in terms of I work with students -
I: [00:09:54.12] You kind of see -
WM: [00:09:55.23] Yeah. Some of the issues they talk about -
I: [00:09:57.08] both sides.
WM: [00:09:57.18] Yeah, exactly. Maybe if teachers could have -
I: [00:10:04.09] more like one on one?
WM: [00:10:07.25] Yeah. More free time. If included in their day could be office hours after school. If they want that as opposed to office hours during school where -
I: [00:10:21.10] but, there’s a lot of students, especially at - the other kid said there's a bout three thousand students here?
WM: [00:10:29.02] Yeah, like thirty-three, thirty-five hundred, probably. That's a lot of students. The one thing I see is a lot of students feel like they don't have time with their teachers. There’s just not enough time for a teacher to help them individually.
I: [00:10:50.21] It's kind of discouraging to the kid.
WM: [00:10:55.02] Yeah.
I: [00:10:55.28] Do you think that there’s more advisors, like you, I don't know exactly how many are here throughout the school, but do you think if there’s more advisors kind of in your position?
WM: [00:11:13.27] What I can do, what I'm allowed to do, is sometimes if a student’s having a problem or misunderstanding with a teacher or something they’re not cool with, I can go to the teacher during office hours. I can serve as a bridge. When students don’t have time to or the hours don’t coincide or students just don’t know how to talk to the teacher sometimes. I think that would definitely help a lot of students. A lot of students don't know how to talk to teachers so they just avoid it altogether. Then there’s the students who try to talk to teachers, but, like I said, schedules ??? So, if they had someone who can help them with that. And some students don't have necessarily folks at home who can help them with that either. We kind of serve that role with parents too. Some parents work multiple jobs and they just can't get to school. Well, I can talk to the teachers on their behalf and relay information. I think that kind of helps parents, students and if you’re helping students then you’re helping parents.
I: [00:12:21.29] And teachers, all in one. Everybody succeeds.
WM: [00:12:23.21] Exactly.
I: [00:12:24.07] That's very important. When you started signing up for this job and what were some of the things you were looking to accomplish?
WM: [00:12:40.29] Initially, it was working with - when I first started, working with, like I said, it was a part-time college job. When I first started working with youth and I saw a lot of young black males who seemed like they were on their own. I was just like, this is not gonna work. cause like I said earlier, when I was growing up, everyone was looking out for us. I couldn't even go down the street without my hair being combed. Without someone being like go comb your hair. How’s school going? When I first saw that, that was my first thing that brought me here was a lot of young black males that don’t have anyone in this world, can be super tough, for black males in particular. If I didn’t have my pops or older brother, like I said, everyone looking out for me. I've made some bad decisions so who knows what would’ve happened if -
I: [00:13:51.17] if that didn’t happen.
WM: [00:13:52.04] catching me. And advising me. And even when I made a mistake, helping me rectify it. That's kind of what really brought me here.
I: [00:14:03.10] And unfortunately I think a lot of people who end up in bad situations or kind of get labeled as a negative or something in today’s society, a lot of it does fall back into the guidance and what was looking over them. Kids who start out and they’re on their own, literally on their own, at the age of fourteen, fifteen.
WM: [00:14:32.12] Yeah, exactly. There are times like when I first started volunteering I would talk to students and literally it was like the parents were working. This mom and three brothers and the moms working and they're in high school. They go home and none of them know how to cook.
I: [00:14:55.05] And there’s no food and moms working and -
WM: [00:14:57.29] yeah. or sometimes there’s no food, you know? I need to try to do some part to help this. When I first started working here or volunteering here, I just saw a lot of boys who were super cool. And they had these personalities and they had all these dreams. And then I would notice, during the first couple years of school, they started feeling like OK, they had dreams but then the school started going, those dreams started disappearing cause they started feeling like they weren’t capable of accomplishing certain things. Then I realized some of these boys have no one positively influencing them at home, not positively, but like there’s no on there. Like you said, they’re kind of raising themselves a bit. And then, come to school and if you aren’t picking something up immediately in the classroom then all of a sudden it’s like what's wrong with me? I'm getting a C or a D and so and so is getting an A. So maybe I'm not as good as them academically. I would see kids pull back, fall back and then just -
I: [00:16:29.27] Not want anything to do with it.
WM: [00:16:31.21] Its difficult when you don’t have someone pushing you. There are a lot of good teachers here, don’t get me wrong. Teachers are here but only so much can be done within the classroom setting.
I: [00:16:47.21] And with the student population being so high.
WM: [00:16:52.01] Exactly. With us, it's like I can drop a text message or give a phone call, check in, hey are you doing your homework?
I: [00:17:05.28] That's good. I think that’s really crucial. I had a kind of an advisor like that. he was a coach but he did take extra time to push me and support me. I was struggling a lot in high school and stuff like that and that’s a very crucial, important role when it comes to the students’ life. Definitely. Do you use arts or any kind of creativity or anything when dealing with these kids? Or do they have any artistic passions or drives that you notice?
WM: [00:17:52.12] A lot of the students I work with have a lot of passions, a lot of passion for art. Over the years, we've had students go to college basically as art majors. G-111, where we're located, students have always brought things they’ve made in class. I have a lot of students who really love art probably because it’s also when you go in there, let’s say you’re doing a ceramics class, when molding something, I think probably it's just a chance to focus on that and not worry about anything else. Just put your energy, your stress into making that, then you see a finished product. it’s pretty awesome. I don't particularly use art necessarily directly working with students. I’m sure I have. I just can’t think off the top of my head. I’m sure at some point I’ve used some kind of example in terms of some kind of something. Whether it’s like a bridge or something as an example. I’m sure I have. I just can’t really recall something like that. But, we definitely have a lot of students who love, love, love art. Even like photography. Students who love photography. I think that’s actually one of the more underrated kind of like forms of art. Cause some of those people don't necessarily associate taking pictures as difficult as creating something from scratch. but, to me it’s like when you look through a lens and you visualize something, to me that’s -
I: [00:19:44.16] and you kind of capture that image that you -
WM: [00:19:47.02] Yeah.
I: [00:19:47.20] And I think what’s super huge now, today too with todays society, almost every kid has a camera in their hand.
WM: [00:19:54.04] Exactly, exactly.
I: [00:19:56.04] And its crazy cause I didn't - and it couldn't have just been the high school I was at - but I didn’t' see too many people seeing photography as an outlet until maybe senior year. Just because with schools it’s kind of harder to rent out cameras and stuff like that, like really professional ones. But, nowadays you pretty much have a professional camera in your hand. Just as a personal thought and stuff, it’d just be cool to kind of see students using that at a younger age as a platform or class or something like that. Especially with the way things have been moving and are gonna be moving in the future with technology and education and where they come into play.
WM: [00:20:40.02] That's true. When I was in high school, there was no cell phones, no camera phones. But, I'll just walk down the street and even in terms of the skyline, it’s like I remember once it was red and ??? right there in the cafeteria and it just looked brilliant and all the kids got their phones out. It wasn't like people talked about it. Everyone just kind of noticed it and it was like whoa and it was a beautiful image (inaudible) capture it. Those things you can capture with a picture that last forever. It'll last forever. Those memories are - cause sometimes memories fade, but those pictures last forever.
I: [00:21:29.13] Definitely. One more question, do you feel like these kids are kind of getting the education they need to prepare them for adulthood? I know you work kind of closer with them and just seeing what they go through. For example, adulthood versus preparing them for maybe college or for the workplace? Like, if you think it’s preparing them for the whole, all-around aspect of being an adult?
WM: [00:22:01.05] Not for a lot. Not for a lot. Maybe for some kids, but usually those kids, I’ve noticed, usually probably have a certain level of maturity when they get here. A lot of kids, they’re being taught how to do a paper, learn how to do math but a lot of them aren't able to really function. I worry what’s gonna happen in terms of how they deal with people outside of Berkeley High School because I see how people talk to each other, how they talk to teachers and how students are sometimes baby-ied. I feel like some students, I’m worried that sometimes there’s gonna be a little bit rougher out there when the students get outside these doors. I don't think that a lot of students are being prepared. I think they're being prepared for most parts as students but not for what life has in store for you as an adult.
I: [00:23:19.02] Yeah, I agree. I think schools could do a little bit more in preparing them for the adult life. It could be challenging. But, that pretty much includes our interview. Was there anything else you wanted to add on?
WM: [00:23:32.19] No. Hopefully I was OK.
I: [00:23:35.21] Oh yeah, you're all good man. Cool. Really appreciate it.
WM: [00:23:39.03] What is this for?
I: [00:23:39.27] I think they said it’s like the board of education or something like that. They’re just gonna basically -