Matthew Bloom and Gabe Davila
October 23, 2018
Q. How has Atholton been different from the past schools you’ve been to?
A. I started here as a long-term substitute, and then I did the black student achievement program liaison at Glenelg High School, and I got to experience different walks of students. While I was a BSAP Liaison I subbed at Homewood also. With my BSAP it was called a .7, which was part-time, so that was Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at Glenelg, and then Tuesday and Thursday I was at Homewood.
With Glenelg, the population was mostly, you know, Caucasian, and about 10% African American or a little less than that, and then I would go to Homewood and substitute and there were some needy kids there that had different issues. Then I was hired as a CTE teacher, like I am now, at Hammond High School, which was more of a mixed population, a minority melting pot. That was from 2012 to 2016, and I’ve been here the last 3 years. As far as the difference, Atholton’s more diverse, compared to Glenelg being more Caucasian, Hammond having more minorities. But as far as the difference between here, it’s more of a diverse population. I do like the student involvement of sports and clubs, but I just like the diversity here at Atholton.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about what CTE means and what you teach?
A. CTE stands for Career and Technology Education. Under that falls computer science curriculum, the business curriculum which pertains to principles of business, accounting, marketing, and then technology education, career and research development, and also food and nutrition. So that’s under CTE.
“Could I have changed professions? Yes, I could have. But I love coaching football, and didn’t wanna give that up.“
Q. So you covered it a little bit, but what were you doing before you taught here?
A. I’m in a unique situation, and I’m gonna be wholehearted with you guys. I was a business and marketing major and college, and I graduated from Bowie State in December 2009. This is when the recession hit: the housing market crashed, the unemployment rate went up. I was competing with adults that had been working for multiple years that had experience, and they were being laid off but were taking entry level jobs from college students. I was going to work for the federal government doing something, but by mom was an elementary school teacher and she told me to get into subbing. At the same time I landed an assistant coaching job here. With subbing here with Ms. Nasir, I fell in love with it.
So I landed two long-term sub jobs and one of them was at Hammond High School as a CTE teacher. From there, I did BSAP at Glenelg and subbed the next year, but from that experience at Hammond, I was awarded a provisional teaching certificate. That provisional teaching means we’ll hire you under condition that you take education classes and pass the Praxis exams. Now Praxis exams are the teacher SAT. They test your math, which is algebra 1 and geometry, and your reading and writing skills that’s equal to the SAT.
So, just with building relationships, I climbed the ladder quick. I fell into a dream job at the time, but with my first year of teaching, the Hammond football job opened, so I fell into that also. So now I’m balancing being a first-year teacher that’s un-certified, and the head football coach. And me keeping my job depended on getting certified and then passing those Praxis tests. So three years later I got all my classes done, got 2 tests, but it came down to passing Praxis 1. I had an opportunity to come here as head football coach at Atholton, so I took advantage of that. With five months left with my teaching certificate, I got all the way up to trying to pass the Praxis, but I didn’t know the skills that I had learned in high school and early college.
I didn’t pass Praxis so I lost my teaching certificate, so I came here as para-educator. I went from making 52-something-thousand dollars to seventeen dollars an hour, so I took a $30,000 pay-cut, and if you think about it, in two years, I lost $60,000. That’s a lot of money from my paycheck being cut in half. So basically, I had to budget the last two years of my life.
Story of perseverance: I didn’t give up. I thought I passed Praxis last year with me taking the SAT again, since you only need an 1100 on the SAT to be a certified teacher. Last March, I passed the Praxis and was able to gain my teaching certificate. Could I have changed professions? Yes, I could have. But I love coaching football, and didn’t wanna give that up. Long story short, this is not my first year teaching, but I’m glad to be back and just happy to be here at Atholton.
Q. What’s your favorite sports team?
A. I like the Baltimore Ravens, even though they may have struggled the last few years.
Q. What would you order at Dunkin’ Donuts?
A. A large French vanilla swirl coffee with cream and sugar.
Q. So now, it’s a rainy day and you can’t leave the house. What’s your go-to binge show?
A. It would probably be Queen of the South. It’s more on the adult side, it’s about the cartel and some of their business that they do. If not Queen of the South, maybe just ESPN or Sports Center. Just to make it more school appropriate.
Q. So, if you were a student would you be your favorite teacher?
A. I would say yes? Because of the relationships I establish with kids. You know, you really have to get to know your students.