In Steven Gamache’s classroom, eighth graders get a taste of what lies ahead after high school. Their whole-class book discussions at Paul Habans Charter School in New Orleans function like college literature seminars, with students leading the conversations about themes, characters and plot development, and commenting on each other’s ideas. Gamache’s creative lessons inspire students to dig into real-world applications. He challenged students to retell the myth of Athena and Arachne by changing the setting from ancient Greece to one of their choosing; students normally shy to share their work came alive as they eagerly shared their often-humorous reimaginings of the classic tale. Using “Omnivore's Dilemma” as a supporting text, Gamache asked students to gather evidence for a discussion about the food industry. In Gamache’s class, students see that learning goes beyond the classroom and relates directly to their futures as they grapple with real-world issues.
Gamache’s rigorous reading and writing curriculum keeps the bar high for all students, many of whom arrived at Habans from underperforming elementary schools, are English learners or have special needs. Committed to moving all students forward, Gamache pushes students to develop comprehension on grade-level texts while he supports them at their independent reading levels. For English learners, he creates intervention lessons that front-load vocabulary, texts and difficult standards in advance of actual in-class lessons. Gamache is masterful at analyzing student data in the moment and making immediate instructional adjustments that help students grow. The numbers reflect Gamache’s dedication. Last year Habans had the highest academic growth of any open enrollment elementary school in New Orleans, and Gamache’s cohort went from 55% to 73% in achieving basic proficiency and above. Gamache’s highly effective instructional practices helped both Habans and his previous school move from an F to a C rating within just two years.
The school’s lead eighth grade ELA teacher, Gamache also coaches sixth and seventh grade ELA teachers. He guides the school’s literacy efforts and regularly observes other teachers, coaches colleagues and leads professional development on curriculum, behavior management, instructional techniques and school systems. Gamache is eager to try new teaching methods, always looking for simple solutions to even the most complex challenges. He communicates frequently with parents and is committed to building a better New Orleans through his work at turnaround schools. Most of the students at Habans live within a mile of the building, and many who visit after graduation thank Gamache for preparing them so well for high school.
Gamache earned a bachelor’s in English in 2008 from Fordham University and a master’s in adolescent education in 2010 from the College of Saint Rose.
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