As the school year ends, BSGE’s 8th grade says goodbye for good to their English class student teacher Phillip Ashton Marnell The First. (Marnell had specifically said that he was “The First”). The 25 year old that worked with English teacher Nikki Singh and the 8th grade from April to June, is not only leaving BSGE, but leaving the country! Marnell had been hired for a job as an English Teacher in Korea, a few hours away from Seoul. When asked about how he felt flying all the way to Korea for his new job, the current Columbia student had said,
“It’s an international school. Some of the students are native Koreans but they have to had been out of the country for 3 years, but there are other students from all around the world. The curriculum is completely taught in English and it’s a boarding school, 20% of the schools will board. It’s a new school too and this school is part of the change to make better education in Korea. It’s a lot like BSGE too”.
The 8th grade had warmly welcomed Marnell in April, learning about all his different interests such as a musical taste in Nirvana and a love of Art galleries. The half Czeck, half American student teacher had been placed into BSGE by asking for a school that focused a bit more on Philosophy and had a different style of teaching.
Growing up in the suburbs of D. C., Marnell had first made his major move to Santa Fe, Mexico to attend Saint John’s College as an undergrad for 4 years, which is not to be mixed up with Saint John’s university. “[In St. John’s] You don’t major in anything, you take 4 years of Math, Science, Language and a course called Seminar. So I took everything, kinda like a high school, except all the classes have the same structure. We all read the same book, then we come together in a group and talk about the book, so it’s all student planned. It’s all about teaching one another through dialogue and reading. But I loved it. I actually wish that was the focus for middle and high school.”
During college, Marnell first began to develop his interest in playing the drums, creating bands with friends , such as “Phil and the Free Feelers” and “Gelatinous Mob”. Marnell’s bands had played a jazz version of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ in college concerts and played music for other events such as parties and catering events for fun, not so much as a serious career choice. “Although I do offer drum lessons, if anyone out there is reading this paper, I’m available” says Marnell. When reminiscing about college band practice, Marnell had spilled out an experience that may have been one of “the most embarrassing times of my life” :
“I remember playing ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ in a basement band room and we were rocking out to it really hard, and then at the end of the song we went crazy, knocking symbols left to right, some other guys were kicking chairs over and I started kicking the drum set, being stupid and young, and then the band director burst into the room and saw us practically destroying everything in the room and he just gave us a tongue lashing, and I felt so embarrassed and ashamed.”
Marnell had always been an eccentric guy, even from his childhood when growing up with a pair of “crazy delinquaint” sisters to trying to change his last name during his teen years. “My original last name was Marinellii. I think Marinelli is just so much sexier than Marnell, so when I was fifteen I thought, ‘Yknow, I’m going to change back my name to Marinelli, I want to be true to my roots,’ and I got all the legal paper work, went to court, the whole 9 yards and I was totally set to become Marinelli again but then it felt so weird to have a different last name from my own family. That kinda freaked me out and I backed out at the last second. That was the last big identity crisis of my life”.
If you had met the teenage Phillip Ashton Marnell in the local suburbian D.C high school, you would see the “music kid usually wearing all black and proud to be different and edgy. Yet at the same time kissing up to teachers. I don’t know how I played it both ways…” It was a surprise to Marnell that he wanted to become a teacher as he got older, as he discovered his love for asking questions and working with young people and looking deeper into things.
Phillip Ashton Marnell–not Marinelli–had moved to NYC to attend Columbia’s Teaching College as a graduate student. Learning how to be an English teacher from experienced professors, Marnell had taught as a student teacher at Beacon High School in the upper west side of Manhattan before coming to BSGE. Like many others have said before, BSGE is a lot different from other high schools in NYC.
“BSGE students are really wonderful. They probably have the most mature 8th graders I’ve seen so far, I think they do a great job of learning how to write, I love how much you write, teachers get a lot of flexibility on what books to teach and how to teach them, so I’m really thankful for that. You guys need a gym, but altogether it’s really great.” Although Marnell is sad to be leaving BSGE so soon, he is taking some Baccalaureatte teaching skills and methods with him to use in his next job in Korea. “I love IB. It’s really great. I love this place. And I really hope that one day I could work in this system as well.