Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Yo, Miss - Lisa Wilde

Title: Yo, Miss: A Graphic Look at High School
Author: Lisa Wilde
Publisher: Microcosm Publishing, 2015 (Paperback)
Length: 160 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Adult; Graphic Novel, Realistic Fiction
Started: July 21, 2015
Finished: July 21, 2015

From the back cover:

Yo, Miss - A Graphic Look at High School takes the reader inside John V. Lindsay Wildcat Academy, a second-chance high school in New York City, where Lisa Wilde has worked since 1997. A school where all the students are considered at-risk, Wildcat offers these teens a ticket to the middle-class - a high school diploma. With humour and humanity, Yo, Miss challenges preconceptions of who these kids are and what is needed to help them graduate.

As a teacher who has taught many of the types of students depicted in this book (and yes I have been addressed as "Yo, Miss" and have responded to it), this was a must-read. Many people who aren't teachers have no clue what it's like to teach actual children, especially when you have a class of kids from wildly different backgrounds. You could have one student you're hounding for assignments because they've just come back from a three-week ski vacation, and another you're worried about because they've been working to help support their family and haven't had time to complete their work. Teaching different groups of kids comes with different skill sets, you have separate approaches for teaching in one demographic area than another. This graphic novel takes a look at the unique circumstances that surround at-risk students and the specialized approaches that are required to help them succeed at what most consider to be the bare minimum, like graduating high school.

Lisa Wilde teaches English at Wildcat Academy, a second-chance high school operating as a charter in New York City. All the students are at-risk, and have not been successful at traditional school environments for various reasons (many heavily impacted by poverty). The kids in the novel are fictional composites of the numerous students she's taught over the years, and I think most teachers will be able to see several of their own students in the characters as well. The patience and understanding (and several second chances) offered by Wilde and the other staff in the novel are instrumental in helping these kids succeed, and the genuine concern that comes from the teachers is really heart-warming.

A must-read if you're a teacher, or otherwise surrounded by children all day.

Thoughts on the cover:
I like how they included the conversation about Oedipus on the left and the cross-section of Wilde's teacher brain on the right, it's very realistic in showing how teachers juggle concerns for their students and their workload, plus their own lives (teachers do have lives outside of school).

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