Lorraine Bellon Cella’s perception of school started changing when she got a new teacher in ninth grade. A young English teacher, James Pepperling, talked with
Lorraine and her fellow students rather than to
them, and worked to get to know them, to build rapport with them, and to inspire them to figure out their places in the world.
Lorraine is now the superintendent of the Edgewater, NJ school district. In an Education Week
article, she reflects on the impact of Mr. Pepperling’s teaching approach. "He . . . challenged us in ways that no one else had done, cared immensely, demonstrated creativity, and stayed connected to each student. Most important, he gave us confidence and a sense of our own efficacy,” she writes.
Now, having worked in a variety of roles within public schools—from English teacher to principal to superintendent, Lorraine is concerned about “how teachers like Mr. Pepperling would score on any one of the new teacher-evaluation systems adopted by New Jersey.”
about Mr. Pepperling’s impact, and the question of whether the intangible qualities of an inspiring teacher can be quantified.
For more on developing the kind of trust and rapport that can help you intervene when a student's behavior escalates, check out “Cultural Competence in Crisis Intervention.”