Johanna Grussner arrived in New York City starry-eyed. She was a young Finnish jazz singer looking for the big time. But it was hard to find steady gigs. Propelled by pluck, determination, and a smidgen of desperation, she obtained a job teaching music at P.S. 86, a public school in the Bronx. At first, it was just to pay the bills. But over the course of several years, Johanna formed an intense, transformative connection with her students. She helped turn them from tough, angry, street-smart city kids into a disciplined, technically proficient, soaringly beautiful gospel chorus.
Johanna came to identify so strongly with her students that she eventually took them to her hometown in rural Finland, to meet her family and friends, to perform in a gospel concert, and to show them what an alternate childhood—one of tiny schools, quiet classrooms, fresh air, wholesome meals, and endless music—could be like.
Seven Days of Possibilities offers an inside look at the politics, history, and complex personal relationships that govern one typical New York City public school. But more importantly, it is the story of how one person can make a difference against those odds, rising above corruption, indifference and regimentation with hope, music, and love.
About Anemona Hartocollis
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Published June 1, 2004
Biographies & Memoirs, Education & Reference, Arts & Photography, Political & Social Sciences.