Hundreds of public school teachers in New York City have landed tickets to the hottest show on Broadway.
Some 400 teachers from schools in all five boroughs will attend Wednesday night’s performance of the sold-out, Tony Award-winning musical “Hamilton.”
The teachers were selected by the city’s Department of Education and via a lottery held by Teach For America-New York, a nonprofit educational organization. Barclays is also involved in the performance for educators through a partnership with the organization and the Education Department.
The Broadway show’s organizers hope the musical’s message of diversity and inclusiveness will resonate with educators and their students. […]
Asa Smith - Celestial Illustrations from Smith’s Illustrated Astronomy. 1851.
Wood engravings with hand highlighting, written by the principal of Public School No. 12 in New York City with the goal “to present all the distinguishing principles in physical Astronomy with as few words as possible”.
Mr. Muñoz has some obvious similarities to the man he is replacing — both have parents from Puerto Rico, graduated from New York City public schools and encountered Broadway as children, becoming passionate about theater. And their careers have been entwined for years — Mr. Muñoz was Mr. Miranda’s alternate, and then his successor, on “In the Heights,” and has been his alternate throughout the development of “Hamilton.”
But Mr. Muñoz brings his own life experience to the role. The son of a doorman, he grew up in a housing project — the Linden Houses, in East New York, Brooklyn, which he recalls as scarily violent and dangerous. “I can’t lie — I’m still afraid of it,” he says. “It was so much fear growing up there.”
He is 40, openly gay, H.I.V. positive and a cancer survivor — he had surgery and radiation last fall, missing weeks of performances in “Hamilton,” but has been back in the cast for months. He said he feels strong — the virus is undetectable, the cancer screenings negative — and is raring to go. “I had my first follow-up in March, and all green lights,” he said. “I’m good.”
Why are you an actor?
I decided in high school — at Edward R. Murrow in Brooklyn. I just fell in love with the idea that theater can be a mirror, theater can be a commentary, theater can be powerful and can start a conversation that needs to happen. I started working for a children’s literacy organization that used theater to teach literacy in after-school programs, and that was another powerful thing — suddenly the kid who really had trouble reading in class, or was embarrassed to speak out loud because of their accent, was inhabiting a character, using their imagination, reading and writing. That blew my mind.
Did you go to Broadway when you were growing up?
I did — school trips. The first thing I saw was “Me and My Girl.” And I loved it so much — I was singing “The Lambeth Walk” for weeks. After that, any time there was a school trip to Lincoln Center, or anything that was arts related, I was so into it.
What happened with your health last fall? How did you know you had cancer?
I have been living with H.I.V. since 2002, and I’m undetectable. I’m healthy, I’m strong and I’m very out about that because of the stigma still attached to it. But I’ve had a healthy fear about my health since I tested positive, and I asked how to test myself for lumps, because both my parents had cancer. And very early on in my learning how to do a self-examination, I found the lump. I wasn’t immediately worried because of where it was — and I do want to keep that private because that’s the only thing that’s mine in this. But I brought it up to my doc, and that’s what led to further testing and discovery.
You didn’t want to tell anyone at “Hamilton”?
I was filling myself with disappointment, as if you can blame yourself for cancer. But that’s a thing, you know. I had to reveal it, and then I had to own that I needed help, and I had to ask for help, and that was the hardest thing in the world.
You express a lot of gratitude on social media.
I have this joke — if it’s funny or not funny, I don’t know — but the joke is that I have died several times already, and that’s how it feels. My life completely and drastically changed in 2002 when I was diagnosed with H.I.V., and then again last year with cancer. And you can’t unknow what you know. Life is not the same after that. But I’m alive, and I’m for all intents and purposes healthy and well. And I’m grateful for that.
You planted a garden on the roof of Richard Rodgers, the theater where “Hamilton” is performed.
There’s so much energy on the stage, there are so many things we’re doing day in and day out, and I needed something there that felt still and calm, and gardening gives me that stillness and that calmness. Also, I’m growing something. And it may sound cheesy or corny, but it’s really not. The fact that life is created in that little garden bed heals me. It just does.
How many shows a week will you do?
Seven. It’s the same structure. [For the eighth performance] someone else gets to be sexy — I’m going to go eat pizza.
students who saw “Hamilton” on Wednesday, most of them 11th graders enrolled in
classes about American history, are the first of 20,000 who are to see the
musical under a program sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation. The program,
which focuses on students in schools with high percentages of low-income
families, is intended to make it possible for younger and more diverse
audiences to see a show for which tickets have become hugely expensive and
difficult to obtain.
“I hope I can
be inspired and motivated,” Yeliz Sezgin, a 15-year-old junior at Fort Hamilton
High School in Brooklyn, said as the daylong events, which included a
question-and-answer session with the cast, began. Ms. Sezgin designed a T-shirt
for the 159 Fort Hamilton students, with her school’s mascot, a tiger, posed
with the upstretched arm of the musical’s logo.Photo
In preparing to
attend the show, Ms. Sezgin and her classmates had read love letters between
Alexander and his wife, Eliza, and she compared them to text messages; she said
she was also impressed by the realization that Mr. Miranda spent years
developing the musical: “He didn’t know what this would be, and yet he kept at
the show, some students said they were especially struck by the cast, which
features Hispanic and black actors playing the founding fathers. “I was
thinking about the diversity while I was watching it, with all this controversy
in the entertainment industry,” said Amber Montalvo, a 17-year-old student at
the High School for Media and Communications in Manhattan. “It’s inspiring.”
the principal of Fort Hamilton, said her school had an annual unit on Hamilton,
because of its name, but had intensified its study in anticipation of seeing
the show. She said the exercise of asking students to produce skits — of two
minutes or less related to the history — had prompted various takes on the
material, including girls exploring neglected women of the era.
said reading the history had made them more curious to understand how the
musical was conceived. “I want to know why Burr killed Hamilton,” said Raekwon
Edwards, a 17-year-old junior at Bronx Engineering and Technology Academy. His
schoolmate Valentin Dinaj, 16, said, “I want to see how they bring history
were, not surprisingly, an extraordinarily enthusiastic audience. They shouted
“I love you” at Mr. Miranda. They cheered for belted notes, laughed at sexual
innuendo, cheered trash talk (“Daddy’s calling!,” a dig at Hamilton’s
dependence on President Washington, and “We know who’s really doing the
planting,” a jab at the South’s dependence on slavery, drew particularly loud
reactions) and gasped at the shooting death of Hamilton’s son Philip.
Two of the cast
members who addressed the students, Mr. Miranda and Anthony Ramos, are alumni
of the New York public schools. Mr. Ramos said that by participating in school
musicals, as well as sports, he was able to “find that part of me that I didn’t
even know I had.” And he urged the school officials present to do more for arts
education. “The public school system has neglected the arts a little bit,” Mr.
Ramos said. “Y’all think you don’t have the money — you better find it.”
Feminine hygiene products will be dispensed for free in bathrooms at 25 public schools in New York as part of a program to increase access to essential care.
The initiative was inspired by a successful free-tampon program launched at the High School for Arts and Business in Corona by New York City Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. As a result of the program, attendance increased by 2% and fewer young women asked to be excused from classes.
“Feminine hygiene products are as essential as toilet paper, helping women prevent health risks and fulfill their daily activities uninterrupted by nature,” Ferreras-Copeland said in a statement. “No young woman should face losing class time, because she is too embarrassed to ask for, can’t afford or simply cannot access feminine hygiene products.”
Estimates on how much women spend on menstruation products vary, but it is believed to be more than $1,000 per year, on average.
Bernie and his brother were educated at public schools in New York City. Bernie attended James Madison High School.
In Chicago, Bernie was very active in the civil rights movement, the generational issue of the time. He was active in both the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He organized sit-in protests against the segregated housing on campu and in 1962 was arrested for protesting segregation in Chicago public schools.
If you look at his political record, which now spans three decades in political office (and two more when you add in his activist days), you’ll find that he’s been fighting for the same things, regardless of the political climate of the time.
In 1976, Bernie already was campaigning for LGBTQ rights, environmental protection, healthcare-for-all, fairer taxes on corporations, fewer military engagements abroad, a more sensible drug policy, and women’s reproductive rights.
He’s the ONLY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE in the 2016 race who VOTED AGAINST the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which banned LGBTQ Americans from marrying until the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional earlier this year.
Mr. Miranda spent a half-hour with about 40 students at Bronx Theatre High School. On April 13, they will be among the first of 20,000 New York City public-school students given access to $10 ‘Hamilton’ tickets through a nearly $1.5 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Tickets, which are hard to come by at face value, went to high schools with concentrations of poor students.
The first student matinee next week will be one of the year’s high points for performers, said Mr. Miranda. “There’s no rap battle like a rap battle for 1,300 11th-graders.”
Asked how he overcame self-doubt, he said being nervous and uncertain were essential parts of daily life for an artist.
“That’s rocket fuel, and rocket fuel is very dangerous,” Mr. Miranda said. “It can blow up your ship if you don’t channel it right. If you channel it right, that energy is going to get you through.’’
At times joking and switching into Spanish, he offered encouragement and advice. He said to get a job with flexible hours to pay the rent while you pursue your passion—he used to be a substitute teacher and “energizer” to get guests dancing at bar mitzvahs.
Get good grades so you are eligible to be in school plays. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
“I mess up every night,” he said. “There’s just too many words in the show.”
Students chosen from 12 schools attending the matinee next week will perform their own work on the “Hamilton” stage before the show starts.
Several teenagers said writing their own pieces helped them delve deeper into the period.Russell Alston, a 17-year-old junior, wrote a poem from the perspective of a son of Thomas Jefferson, who many historians believe had children with a slave.
“I’m a bastard, might as well be an orphan,” Mr. Alston said in reciting his poem, which echoed “Hamilton” lyrics. “We were a secret that might not be kept, because the five-cent founding father didn’t want to proudly be my father.”
Natalie Jimenez, a 17-year-old senior, wrote a scene about the election of 1800, showing how voters focused more on the politicians’ name-calling than their policies.
“It reminds me of the election we’re having right now,” she said. “History repeats itself. It brought that meaning to a whole new level.”
Of all the teachers in the U.S., only 2 percent are black and male. That news is bad enough. But it gets worse: Many of these men are leaving the profession.
Just last month, a new study found that the number of black teachers in the public schools of nine cities dropped between 2002 and 2012. In Washington, D.C., black teachers’ share of the workforce dropped from 77 percent to 49 percent.
Now, a researcher at Stanford, Travis Bristol, is trying to figure out why black men are leaving the profession. Bristol himself taught high school English in New York City public schools; there he grew interested in designing policies that would support his male students, particularly boys of color. As a Ph.D. candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University, he noticed a disconnect: While lots of attention was being paid to hiring more black male teachers, relatively little was being done to hold onto them.