Nearly all of the Gadsden County’s student body is black and considered economically disadvantaged, the highest percentage of any school district in Florida. Fewer than 15 percent perform at grade level.
An idealistic new teacher at East Gadsden High, John Nogowski saw that the Department of Education’s techniques would not work in this environment. He wanted to make an impact in his students’ lives. In a room stacked with battered classics like A Raisin in the Sun and To Kill a Mockingbird, he found 30 pristine, “quarantined” copies of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Abused by an alcoholic father, neglected by his own community, consigned to a life of privation and danger. Wouldn’t Huck strike a chord with these kids? Were he alive today, wouldn’t he be one of them? Part lesson plan, part memoir, Nogowski’s surprising narrative details his experience teaching Twain’s politically charged satire of American racism and hypocrisy to poor black teens.