WMU News

Teacher turned author talks about 'hearing voices'

March 2, 2004

KALAMAZOO--Former Chicago Public Schools teacher Greg Michie, whose classroom experiences taught him hard-learned lessons in education and social justice, is the next speaker in a Western Michigan University lecture series about students placed at risk.

Michie is the featured guest for "Hearing the Voices of Students," a 7:30 p.m. lecture Monday, March 8 in Schneider Hall's Brown Auditorium. His presentation is sponsored by the University's GEAR UP Learning Center, a program partially funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

The "Educating Students Placed at Risk" series brings to campus guest speakers like Michie who are actively engaged in such issues as school restructuring, professional development, community engagement and policy development. All of the lectures, held every other Monday through April 5, are free and open to the public.

Michie, a community activist for parents and for students placed at risk, began teaching in the fall of 1990 as a $54 per day substitute at Chicago's Ralph Ellison Educational and Vocational Guidance Center. There, the Charlotte, N.C., native was paid to work with seventh- and eighth-graders who were considered tough to teach and hard to place.

The experience was the beginning of a nine-year career in the Chicago schools, where he succeeded in reaching and teaching his students. How he did it and what he learned in the process is the basis for his acclaimed 1999 book, "Holler If You Hear Me: The Education of a Teacher and His Students." The book won praise from educators and literary critics alike for its "practical insight," "hard truths" and for including first-person stories of his students, effectively allowing their voices to be heard.

The recipient of several teaching awards, Michie is a doctoral student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he co-directs the GATE@UIC alternative teacher certification program. He is the editor of the "Reflections: Young Men in Back of the Yards Look at Their Lives," and continues to work with public school youth. He also helps facilitate a weekly reflection group for dropouts and gang members.

Next up in the WMU series is Dr. A. Wade Boykin, director of the Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed at Risk, who will speak at 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 22, in Brown Auditorium. The center he directs is a U.S. Department of Education-funded research and development unit that jointly operates out of Howard University and Johns Hopkins University.

Boykin, a nationally recognized leader in the areas of multicultural education and minority student achievement, will present "Asset Based Education: Developing the Talents of Children Placed At Risk."

For more information about upcoming series events, call Dr. Joseph Kretovics, director of the GEAR UP Learning Center, at (269) 387-6865.

Media contact: Gail Towns, 269 387-8400, gail.towns@wmich.edu

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