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Feature Stories
Three educators, one opening day

Steve Burrell, school counselor and chapter leader

Bedford Academy HS, Brooklyn, a PROSE school
New York Teacher
Steve Burrell, school counselor and chapter leader
Maria Bastone

An early start. I get up at 4 or 4:30 every morning, five days a week, to work out. I go to the Bedford-Stuyvesant YMCA, work out until 6:30 or 7, go home and take a shower and get to school about 7:30. On the first day of school, I was standing out front with the principal and dean to greet the students as they came into the building. We’re like a family at Bedford Academy, so it’s like the kids are coming home from summer break. We got a lot of good wishes from the neighborhood, people coming by to say good morning — it’s a real friendly, regular routine. When I’m not out there, I get stopped on the street by people saying, “I didn’t see you this morning; are you OK?”

Programming, programming. At about 8:15 I headed up to my office to begin my day as a counselor. This time of year it’s all about program changes and updating programs. For freshmen, it’s a set course. With upperclassmen, it’s more individualized; I’m looking at what they need for graduation. The first four to five days, you want to make sure the programs are right, so that’s pretty much what I did for the rest of the day. Basic Counseling 101.

Looking ahead to PROSE. This is our first year as a PROSE school. From day one, I’ve wanted us to be a PROSE school because we do things differently here at Bedford Academy, and I wanted to jump into the program. For example, our students at Bedford take four Regents exams in their freshman year; we get the basics out of the way by sophomore year so we can focus on college readiness. But we have been told by parents and kids that they don’t have fun here. We are a strict academic school, and I’m so used to the grind that to me, that is fun! But I understand that we have to find a way to be more relaxed because a more relaxed child will perform better academically. So the thing we’re trying to do with PROSE is make school more fun by creating clubs and activities. For example, the entire school is going to visit colleges, from CUNY to NYU to Columbia.

A quiet evening. My goal was to come in, bring positive energy and knock out as many program changes as I could, and I think I did that. I stayed at school until 7 or 7:30, still doing programs, and then headed home. I usually try to watch a little “Criminal Minds” or “NCIS,” but instead I was on my iPad checking my email because I have a lot of alumni who went to college emailing me. I love to hear from them!

Related Topics: PROSE