In a Los Angeles neighborhood plagued by guns, gangs, and drugs, there is an exceptional classroom known as Room 56. The fifth graders inside are first-generation immigrants who live in poverty and speak English as a second language. They also play Vivaldi, perform Shakespeare, score in the top 1 percent on standardized tests, and go on to attend Ivy League universities. Rafe Esquith is the teacher responsible for these accomplishments.
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"Starred Review. While his goals are inspiring, he's also practical - most chapters include affordable, how-to directions for a variety of his most effective classroom activities." - PW.
"Politicians, burbling over how to educate the underclass, would do well to stop by Rafe Esquith's fifth grade class as it mounts its annual Shakespeare play. Sound like a grind? Listen to the peals of laughter bouncing off the classroom walls." - Time.
"Esquith is a modern-day Thoreau, preaching the value of good work, honest self-reflection, and the courage to go ones own way." - Newsday.
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Esquith has won numerous teaching awards and is the only instructor to have been given the National Medal of the Arts. He's also been honored by both Oprah Winfrey and the Dalai Lama.
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