This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Andrew Brooking’s future at Philadelphia’s Blaine Elementary School seemed uncertain.
After four years teaching there, he was vying to become an assistant principal at the end of last school year and figured that would mean an assignment elsewhere in the city.
But a conversation with a parent from the school’s Strawberry Mansion neighborhood — one that is home to deep poverty and violent crime — helped him understand why he needed to stay.
“The parent was, like, ‘No, you can’t, Mr. Brooking. This community needs you.’ She said it just like that — not ‘my kids’ or ‘I.’ It was: ‘Our community needs you.’”
Brooking took the challenge to heart — a reminder that the career he’s devoted his life to can have a tremendous impact on the people around him.
“It’s what drives the work and makes it more sustainable,” he said.