Work Hard. Be Nice: How Two Inspired Teachers Created the Most Promising Schools in America
Jay Mathews, , read by J. Paul Boehmer. . HighBridge, $29.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-59887-905-6
Mathews's sprawling narrative traces the birth and early development of the controversial Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) through the eyes of its charismatic young founders, Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin. J. Paul Boehmer captures both the fiery idealism and initial naïveté in the voices of the two protagonists as they parlay their postcollege Teach for America stint in inner-city Houston into a bold national experiment in classroom instruction and school governance. Boehmer provides an especially memorable portrayal of Feinberg and Levin's early mentor Harriett Ball, a veteran educator whose commanding presence conveys both maternal warmth and tough determination. Boehmer only misfires once, when he fails to provide a cue that he is shifting from storytelling into an expository section analyzing the KIPP track record.
Reviewed on: 07/27/2009