This is a piece by Oakland student Alondra Gonzalez, part of the Energy Convertors Fellowship led by Charles Cole III.
This is me with my teacher, Mr. Bey. In the six months our class has known him he has earned not only our respect, but our love.
I met him my first day of freshman year. I remember walking through his classroom doors late because my schedule got messed up—you know, typical first day of school stuff.
When I saw his name, I didn’t recognize it. I finally found his classroom, and when I walked in I was greeted with a huge smile, “Good morning! How are you doing today?” was the first thing he said to me.
“If you don’t like my class, don’t come.”
That day he basically ran us through how his class works. Right away, I knew he wasn’t like other teachers. His classroom even felt different. He made himself very clear: “If you don’t want to be in my classroom, don’t come.”
He teaches differently. He didn’t tell us what to do and what not to do. He set up his classroom in a way where the students are involved. It felt more like a family than the stale classrooms I’m used to. This is important because unfortunately not everybody has this in their lives. He made the students connect with him and each other.
By the end of the first month of school, everyone was in love with him. He’s dynamic. The way he cares about every single one of his students is amazing. It’s crazy because even the “bad” students go to his class and participate and are active. Why? Mr. Bey helps them connect with their inner intelligence. Not only that, but he teaches us, not makes us memorize. That’s crazy because not ONCE has he ever used those old textbooks; he teaches us in a way in which we interact.
We are there for the safety and family he brings us.
Every single thing we have discussed in his class has stuck with me. People who go in his classroom see that dynamic he has with students. He’s upfront with us, he expresses himself and lets us communicate freely. He teaches us what matters and he does it in a way in which we remember it. I remember at one point the only reason I went to school was his class. He’s in his room until 5 or 6pm. There are REALLY students in there not because they are in trouble but because we enjoy the sense of safety and family he brings to us.
He delivers the curriculum in his own way, and surprisingly it has been more impactful to me than any other class. We need more teachers like him. He’s really teaching us; he’s found a way to help us learn and feel like family all while still establishing a strong sense of respect. You don’t cross him; he doesn’t cross you.
Mr. Bey is not the norm, he is not the common experience I’ve consistently had in schools. He stands out mostly because he’s great, but also because the majority of my teachers have been disappointing. He has not only earned our respect, but he’s deserving of our love.
Thank you, Mr. Bey.