Wonderful piece the other day in The New York Times about a De La Salle Christian brother. Lovely photo, too.
It is 8:30 a.m. at De La Salle Academy, a private school in Manhattan for academically talented poor children, and classical music is humming through a boom box that harks back to the 1980s.
Children are streaming up four flights of stairs and surrounding the school’s founder and principal, Brother Brian Carty, like moths fluttering around a light. They want to tell him something. They want one of his bearhugs. They want to be in his orbit for a few minutes.
If the students’ attraction to Brother Carty suggests that he is a teddy bear of an administrator, consider a few of his rules. Gossip is an expellable offense. Makeup — even lip gloss — is prohibited. Dating is outlawed.
Parents are instructed on rules regarding parties and cellphone and Internet use. Teaching fads are generally dismissed, memorization is encouraged and smart boards are nowhere to be seen. “I’m not going to spoon-feed them,” he said. “Taking notes is a skill.”
At a time when everything about education seems to be in flux — the role of testing, the expectations for teachers, the impact of technology — Brother Carty is something of a throwback. For more than a quarter-century, he has been the guiding force and gatekeeper of one of the city’s most selective, if not most heralded, private schools. More than half of its students come from families with incomes of less than $35,000, and most move on to the city’s top private high schools or elite boarding schools in New England.
De La Salle, a middle school on West 97th Street, is nonsectarian, but there is a faith component, including prayers at the beginning of the day and the start of each class. “I ask the parents to raise them in their faith and to practice it,” Brother Carty said. And though he holds an administrative role, he clearly views his position pastorally.