TALKING LITERACY WITH HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER JARRED AMATO
Anybody who is involved in education issues and is active on social media should be aware of Maplewood High School English teacher Jarred Amato. Amato has been teaching now for about 8 years, after entering the profession through the Nashville Teaching Fellows/TNTP. He’s proven to be a dedicated, innovative professional, and at a time when young males need more role models, he’s just what the doctor ordered. Last summer Jarred dedicated himself to learning more about “book deserts” and then paired with his students, many of whom reside in those deserts, to do something about them. The result was what he calls Project Lit. Something equally refreshing about him is his humility. He recognizes that he is benefiting from exposure to great educators and that he’s just one of a system full of great teachers. Jarred and I recently sat down for a coffee and a chat at Portland Brew on 12th Avenue South.
Dad Gone Wild: Afternoon Jarred. You doing all right
Jarred Amato: I’m good, TC. How are you?
DGW: I’m doing all right. I’m kind of laughing a little bit because when you and I first met, what, about four years ago?
JA: That sounds about right.
DGW: Yes, four years ago and that was under little different circumstances. Where was it, a teacher cabinet or a teacher group? Teachers for reform? Do you remember it at all?
JA: (looking puzzled) I’m not sure.
DGW: It was a meeting held by a group of primarily parents and some teachers who were trying to form a group to promote education reform, and you and I were on different sides of the table. I think I kinda got kicked out of that meeting, or it was hinted at that I might not be a good fit. That’s back when battle lines were really being drawn.
JA: Oh, over at the community center, right?
DGW: That’s the one, and that time we were definitely in opposition. But I’ve kept track of your career over the last several years, and I have to say I’m impressed. It’s reinforced to me that in arguing policy, we have to really be careful that the end result is not running people out of the conversation. It would have been a big loss if you were no longer in the classroom because of some ideology battles.
JA: Thank you for that. It’s been a blast. This is my eighth year in the classroom, and it’s crazy to look back at how much I’ve grown from 2009, graduating college and stepping right into the classroom at Jere Baxter MS to now at Maplewood HS. I look at my transformation as a teacher, but also how I’ve broadened my perspective on education policy, not just here, but nationally and internationally. I have been fortunate to learn from and work alongside some great people during my TALKING LITERACY WITH HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER JARRED AMATO « Dad Gone Wild: