Today is Teacher Appreciation Day! To celebrate, we at 826NYC would love to share with you an interview from December with Rebecca Eisenberg, educator at the High School for Fashion Industries.
826NYC: Hi Rebecca, thank you for doing this interview with us! Please tell us about yourself.
Rebecca: I’ve been teaching for the Department of Education since 2002 with a short break when I went to Columbia’s Teachers College for my Masters in secondary English Education. After being in the system for so long, I have come to value my relationships and partnerships with outside organizations, such as 826NYC. These relationships are what keep me from burning out!
826NYC: Can you tell us more about your school and your students?
Rebecca: The High School of Fashion Industries in Chelsea, Manhattan is a large public school of almost 2,000 students. The students apply to the school in 8th grade with either a portfolio or audition. The school fosters creativity and is a pretty supportive environment. Students choose to major in Fashion Design, Business, Art, or Visual Merchandising. The class sizes are large- up to 34 in a class. One of my favorite details is that we have student-chosen music that plays between each class period instead of bells.
826NYC: How did you find out about 826NYC and how long have you been working with us?
Rebecca: I found out about you in 2004 through a colleague of mine at Louis D. Brandeis High School who made a book with you. I started by using you as a publishing house with your Education Director for the school’s Literary and Arts Magazine, INK. One year, the editorial staff and I went to 826NYC and actually created the books in the basement with your equipment. It was so fun. Then we stepped it up and created legit, bound magazines when I moved to Brooklyn High School of the Arts. Your staff would come meet with the editorial staff to get the books designed, organized, and made. In 2014, I moved to the High School of Fashion Industries and have worked with 826NYC Education Director on two student publications. Two years ago we created a Young Authors Book Project called Bright Blue Sky and Gray Silence, a collection of personal narratives. That was a fantastic experience- with guest author Sheri Booker contributing and appearing at our book launch! Last year we made a book of political poetry with my sophomores called Listening to the Trees. We just started our latest project last week – a book of ekphrastic poetry. I have also took students to the Memoir Field Trip two times.
826NYC: What do you believe your students leave with after participating in our programs?
Rebecca: They definitely experience pride in their work. Having their work published sends a big message: their voices matter and people want to read and hear what they have to say and offer. Working with volunteers during the process helps them build confidence in their social skills. It is great for them to share ideas with such respectful, academic adults in this low-stakes way. Talking with adults who care about them and their writing makes them feel so good.
826NYC: What is one moment that is particularly memorable for you during our programs?
Rebecca: Being in the basement with my lit mag editorial staff creating the magazines by hand like an assembly line- we were having a great time and it was nice bonding while literally coming together and making something great. Another special moment is from September when a student I had as a 10th grader returned as a senior and totally unprompted said about Bright Blue Sky and Gray Silence, “Ms., that book we made is life. I still think about it all the time.”