2006_03_courtneyhall1.jpgHow long have you been teaching? Where do you teach? What grade/class?
I started teaching this past fall (September 2005). I teach 9th grade Math A at the Urban Assembly Academy for History and Citizenship for young men in the Bronx.

But you were not always a teacher - you were an NFL lineman and then an investment banker before becoming a teacher. Why did you move into teaching?
I played in the NFL for 8 years -- '89 - '98 -- all with the San Diego Chargers. Our team made it to the Super Bowl during the '94 season. I was team captain, Pro-bowl 1st alternate several times and team union representative. Banking was grueling ... but fun! The same was true with getting my BA at Rice University and my JD/MBA at U. Chicago. I have always enjoyed learning, meeting diverse people/personalities and tackling (pun intended) new challenges. With the NY Teaching Fellows program, I have been able to continue in this vein while getting some personal satisfaction knowing that I am making a difference in a young man's life.

Do you find your NFL experience handy in the classroom? Do you huddle before class attendance? Are you called to break up schoolyard scuffles?
HAHA ... That is actually a great idea! But no, I haven't called any huddles in class, yet. In football, you learn that confidence is of the utmost importance. The best players have tons of it ... those who don't make it, although just as talented, have less. What I've tried to do is give my students constant encouragement and positive feedback. These kids are smart!!! They just need some people that believe in them and won't get down on them when they mess up. That's not to say I don't discipline them ... they just need to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

What's been the biggest challenge for you as a teacher? Biggest reward?
Classroom management!! Who would've thunk? The fascination of me playing professional football wore off very quickly and then I had to (and still have to) deal with the day to day classroom issues. I'm getting better but I never thought it would be so challenging!

My biggest reward? Having a student come to me and say "thank you for explaining that to me Mr. Hall!" I see the smile on their face and satisfaction within. It is as if they are saying "I CAN learn!" That is a great feeling for me!

Questions about NYC:
What's your favorite subway?
The "A" train! That's the quickest way to Harlem!

Favorite park:
Riverbank State Park

What do you do for lunch - cafeteria, go out to eat, or brown bag it?

Best playground sport:
Kick ball

The NYC Teaching Fellows is the largest alternative certification program in the country and is among the most selective. NYCTF has placed more than 8,000 new teachers in NYC public schools (that's 1 out of every 11 teachers in the city, that's more teachers than in the entire San Francisco public school system). Additionally, nearly 1 out of 4 math teachers in the city are Fellows. For more information, go to the NYCTF website.