Teaching for America in the ‘Terrordome’

After Teach for America’s five-week teacher boot camp, Heather Kirn Lanier was assigned to a Baltimore high school known as “The Terrordome.”  Students roamed the hallways or barged into classes to disrupt lessons. While she was teaching one day, a student lit her classroom door on fire. Her book, Teaching in the Terrordome: Two Years in West Baltimore with Teach for America, recalls her frustrations at Southwestern High School, now closed.

Southwestern was too big and impersonal, Lanier tells the Baltimore Sun.

A small, close-knit community, where the principal knows every single student by name and where the teachers work in teams, would have been helpful. It wasn’t until I got to know my students and their problems that things started to click.

Lanier praises the teachers who stayed on the job, avoiding burnout. After two years, Lanier left K-12 teaching. After earning a master’s degree in creative writing, she taught remedial reading and writing to immigrant Berkeley students.

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  1. Lanier’s solution is off the mark…she’s regurgitating educrap that has been tried in numerous Terrordomes and failed.
    The schoo has been poisoned by its community. The school needs to be burnt to the ground (figuratively, not physcially) and rebuilt from scratch with clear expectations for students and staff, and rapid consequences for those who fail to meet them. Then they might have a chance.

    • Stacy in NJ says:

      Not burnt down (figuratively), but a handful of charter schools should be located right next to this school. Or, better yet, a generous voucher could be offered. Parents and students who give a crap would have a way out. Those that don’t can continue on at the Terrordome. I’d prefer the voucher program because subsidizing the consumer rather than the producer is almost alway more effective (better educational results with contained costs).

      Instead of Terrordome, they shoud name it the Thunderdome becasue two men enter and one man leaves. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmRAiUPdRjk

  2. Florida resident says:

    Dear Ms. Jacobs !
    Dear participants of the discussion !
    Ron Unz {see
    wrote an article (long one, 38 pages)

    “The Myth of American Meritocracy.
    How corrupt are Ivy League admissions?”

    Here is the link:

    I read the article in full;
    spent about 3 hours to do it.
    I think it is an important article.

    Your truly, Florida resident.