Lockport High School Teachers Lou Cercone and Joe Spero


It’s been a busy week already, and it’s only Wednesday. I’m spending some time coaching in Lockport City Schools, and I’m hoping to share my reflections from this work here over the next few days. In the mean time, I wanted to introduce you to two of the talented WNY educators I’ve been working with this week: Lockport High School English Teachers Lou Cercone and Joe Spero.

Joe knows how to ask great questions: of his kids, of me, of the education system, and most importantly, of himself. I’m giving a shout out to him on my blog this week because I’ve always been impressed by his commitment to his own learning, by the time he invests in reflective practice, and by his willingness to both tolerate and more importantly, create discomfort. Joe doesn’t always agree with me, but he does engage me. He pushes my thinking and always make me question what I think I know. He’s also a deep listener. Joe thinks aloud in the presence of his students and his colleagues, and he instantly makes others feel comfortable enough to do the same. That’s a gift, and I’m grateful to have been a recipient of it this week, when I’m trying to make meaning from many new ideas and a lot of information.

Lou is open-minded and willing to take risks. A former teacher at Emmett Belknap Middle School, Lou is new to Lockport High School this year and responsible for helping his students write their first critical lens essays. He welcomed me into his classroom this week and allowed me to try some very different instructional approaches without any promises of perfection. He spoke to what he needed as a teacher and what he thought might be of help to his colleagues as well. Maintaining a position of optimistic skepticism, Lou was willing to turn control of this classroom over to his students long enough to identify the benefits and the challenges of doing so.

These gentlemen have raised some critical questions about implementing the Common Core Standards, shifting practice, leading systemic change, and serving learners well. More on that to come.

In the mean time, if you know of any talented WNY Educators who deserve a bit of my bandwidth, please email me and let me know how they inspire you. My purposes for adding this weekly feature to my blog are trifold:

  • First, I like the idea of shining a light on local people who are doing good things for our profession. I learn a great deal from the teachers I know, and when I share these discoveries with my friends and acquaintances inside of schools, I’m often asked to share photos, post lessons, or connect people together. I’m hoping these posts can facilitate that better and provide an archive of inspiring instructors that can be returned to over time.


  • As a coach, my first priority is helping teachers identify and meet the needs of learners, usually by assisting new shifts in practice. This typically happens one-on-one or with small groups of people inside of single schools. Sharing the details of these experiences here and what we are discovering along the way will allow administrators, teachers, and even parents who couldn’t be in the room with us access to our work and an entry point into the learning. Sometimes, my Talented WNY Educators posts will introduce you to teachers I’m engaged in sustained coaching experiences with. When this is the case, reflections on the time we’ve spent together and links to resources and tools will typically be shared in the posts that follow. I’ll be asking for a lot of feedback too, I know.


  • Finally, I don’t think anyone in the field of education is getting enough good press lately. So for what it’s worth, I’m happy to provide my small readership here a bit of weekly inspiration and a reminder of all we have to be proud of. I figured this was a good way to kick off my celebration of Teacher Appreciation Day. What are you doing to recognize the teachers you appreciate most?






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