Dr. David Lemmel is the new head of the African American Latino Scholars program. Dr. David Lemmel is an alumnus of the high school, returning after graduating in 1986. Dr. David Lemmel is extremely excited to get re-acquainted with the community this year.
What led you to this career?
I ended up going back to school after having a couple of unfulfilling jobs as an 18-year-old and 19-year-old in downtown Boston. I went to North Adam State for a year, then transferred to Bard College after I visited the school and just saw a big difference in the state school experience. I saw a whole different level of scholarship and intellectual engagement and wonder.
What was it like to return to the high school as a teacher?
You know, it was awesome. I guess my first impression was that I was surprised at the change in demographics. Visually, it’s more diverse than it was when I was here. There are more programs. Now, you have “Steps” and the Scholars Program for support. Then I went to teacher training and there was a lot of conversation about issues of social justice, inclusion, equity — that was not just racial and ethnic inclusion but also using different pronouns to introduce yourself — around sexual identity, orientation and I learned about the gender neutral bathrooms.
Your predecessor, Dr. Chistopher Vick, was greatly loved at the school. How are you going to bring your own new insight to the job?
Yeah, I’m not Dr. Vick. He’s a very big personality. I love making connections, I’m really excited to meet parents, get known and meet students. This is a very welcoming community and I’m having a blast, I’ve gone to football and volleyball events, to see my students in action outside of school. I live over on Cypress Street so it’s nice to see my students coming and going from football practice and after school and on weekends.
Is there anything that you are concerned about?
I think that they’re not major concerns but just misunderstandings. The goal is to have all students of color be supported by Scholars. So we’re looking for ways to create pipelines for access, were looking for ways to expand the program, both here at the high school level as well at the middle schools. Ideally, there would be a Young Scholars Program available at every single middle school and we’re just starting to have those conversations about how to do that and what that would look like and how to make it sustainable, but the things I need to do when coming in is the big picture with having programs that close the achievement gap because these students are more than capable. If there’s a gap, it’s identifying ways to increase access lines to opportunity, to AP and honor classes, and awareness of who these students are and what they can do, and that goes both ways.