Throughout the year, we’ll be profiling Heroes in the Classroom, our nod to the teachers doing tremendously hard work, day in and day out. They don’t get enough praise for the heart and soul they put into their kids’ success, so we hope to use this series as a platform to show our gratitude for all they’re doing to make a difference in the lives of their students.
For Jasmine Hoskins and Anna Smith, their work as teachers at Urban Dove Team Charter School in Brooklyn is more than a job. It’s personal work that doesn’t end at 5pm, and extends far beyond traditional workday hours which is why they both say their motto is: All day, every day at the Dove.
It’s also why fellow educators at the school nominated them for the Heroes in the Classroom series, saying their work ethic is unmatched.
Anna Smith and Jasmine Hoskins
Urban Dove Team Charter School (UD Team) defies the misconception that charter schools don’t take students who are difficult to educate. In fact, those are the students who Urban Dave welcomes with open arms. And it’s these students who Anna and Jasmine have the most impact on.
They both say that because the students have been failed by prior schools before they arrive at UD Team, they need strong relationships and trust with educators to help get them back on track.
“Our students have not experienced a lot of success in previous schools, so we are trying new things and are responsive to their needs,” said Jasmine, who teaches history.
The school, founded in 2012, is a transfer, alternative high school that serves over-aged, under-credited students. It’s fair to say all of their students are high-needs. Nearly forty percent of the students are special education students; that’s nearly triple the district average, according to the school.
UDTeam meets students where they are and works to get them back on track with the number of credits they need to graduate. They may not necessarily be “easy to teach” but that hasn’t stopped Jasmine and Anna from being there for them.
“We are always here in the building. We are painstakingly focused on building relationships. We attend events outside of school. We coach sports. We plan extra-curriculars. We work to bring positivity into the school as a whole,” Jasmine said.
“The key is building personal relationships. Once you really know the kids, you know when they need a break, or something is not working for their learning, or something needs to be broken down further for them to really grasp it,” said Anna, who teaches English, along with some US history and foreign language.
“I have made it my goal to be present and engaged always - in the classroom, or in the hallway, at Regents prep, at the basketball games. I try to make it so that I am someone my students want to talk to so that they can be successful.”
Jasmine said earlier in her career she wanted to work in education in a broader sense and learn more about urban education in the United States, but learned that the classroom was where she could really make a different and impactful difference.
“It was there that I could actually meet the students, teach them, and in turn, understand the better policies that we need to have in place,” she said.
Anna knew she wanted to work with kids when she was in college but wasn’t sure she wanted to teach until later. “I was a camp counselor and part of America Reads when I was in college. I was part of New York City Teaching Fellows as well but not totally sure I wanted to be a teacher long term. Eventually, like Jasmine I realized being in the classroom is the way to have the most impact and make the most change. I was lucky to find Urban Dove,” she said.
Urban Dove Team Charter School's principal, Amit Bahl works with the teachers and said they are examples for other teachers.
"Both Jasmine and Anna embody the true essence of what it means to be an educator. Their passion teaching our students in unparalleled. They both continually go out of their way to ensure that their students needs are met in every way. They are model teachers and I am so lucky to have them on my team and our students are lucky to have them in their lives."
We asked both teachers about their proudest moments at Urban Dove.
Jasmine said: “Regents exams are really difficult for our students because of their academic shortcomings. Their reading levels make it difficult to pass the exams. We have been doing a lot to address that. This year, I have had some experience with tutoring after school with students who have not graduated yet who should have. These students are putting in a lot of time to their work. It is an indescribable feeling when they find out they have passed the test. They sometimes feel that goal is unattainable. I am so proud when they succeed.”
Anna said, “We have a running club at school and four of the seniors have spent their extra curricular time running with me and we ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon together this year. The moment at the finish line was so awesome; I was so proud. I will never forget it.”
Jasmine and Anna are proving that all children can learn – for some it just takes a little bit more, and these teachers are giving them everything they need to make it.
Our kudos and thanks to them both for spending so much time at “the Dove” and the work they’re doing for kids who would have otherwise slipped through the cracks.