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Jake Boeri


New York, NY

Recorded by

Alex Vara


This interview was conducted on April 21, 2021 remotely via Zoom. Jake Boeri is a special education teacher at a public high school in Manhattan. In this interview, Jake spoke about his school’s recent transition into a hybrid online/in-person model of teaching. He described his work week: half at school, half at his home in Brooklyn where he teaches classes over Zoom. Fifteen percent of students are now in-person.

Jake painted the picture of what it’s like to be back in the classroom: in the beautiful old Stuyvesant High School building on 15th Street and 1st Avenue, ten students per classroom sit six feet apart staring at devices. Even though they are back in school, their classes are still over Zoom. Students sit in the same classroom, mostly in silence, for seven periods as the forty teachers rotate from classroom to classroom “babysitting.” As he put it: “It’s bleak.” Jake spoke about the challenges of teaching in the virtual classroom. He speaks about less engagement (cameras off, chat culture), more texts and calls home to try to connect with students, and the feeling of being ill-prepared to teach online. As a new teacher currently in school for his Masters in Education, he finds his own professors do not know how to respond to teaching virtually. He finds parents are at the end of their rope and can’t make their children do their school work. Some students are “uncontactable.” Jake tells a story about one student he and his colleagues hadn’t heard from all year show up for the first day of in-person classes this spring ready to work. Jake holds hope for the fall when he sees classes being fully in person. He spoke about students who have recently caught COVID-19, anti-vaxxer teachers, and his students’ support of the vaccine. He doesn’t see schools requiring teachers to get vaccinated due to a national teacher shortage. With eleven weeks left in the school year, Jake shared that he is teaching two new classes, one on human migration and the other on music criticism. He ended the interview by reflecting on how COVID has exposed gaps in education (students don’t know how to write an email which blew the myth of the digital native out of the water for him) and his hope for public schools to reimagine what education can and should be for students.

Interviewer Bio:

Alex Vara was born in San Francisco but raised just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Mill Valley, California. She is a graduate of Hampshire College and a dual MFA Creative Writing (Fiction/Nonfiction) student at The New School in New York City. She’s a public speaking teacher and host of TNS After Hours, a reading series dedicated to The New School Writing Community. She writes about family and her place within it. 

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This interview is hereby made available for research purposes only. For additional uses (radio and other media, music, internet), please click here to inquire about permissions.

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